Like many wise 18 year-old men, I decided to join a fraternity in college. While my next four years were filled with plenty of Animal House-esque shenanigans, one of the best parts of my particular chapter was that it was designed and built to be a fraternity. This meant 17 bedrooms, large communal rooms, and a commercial kitchen.
Yes, ladies & gentleman, a group of 18-22 year-old men (boys) actually cooked for themselves. One of the most important roles in the house was that of Steward, who was responsible for planning menus, ordering food, scheduling cooks & dishwashers, and putting up with all the crap that comes with feeding 50+ fraternity brothers. For some foolish reason I held this role for several semesters.
Thankfully my predecessor, Josh, had grown-up working in his parents’ New Jersey catering business. Under his reign, Josh managed to feed each brother 10 meals a week (5 dinners & 5 lunches) for less thatn $20 per person.
One way he was able to do this was by creating filling meals using inexpensive (not cheap) ingredients. A personal favorite of mine was Polish Blowout, which consisted of kielbasa, sauerkraut, and pierogies. All of these items are easy on the wallet, and eating a plate of sauerkraut and potato pierogies was incredibly filling. (The “Polish” part of this meal is pretty obvious… the “Blowout” came later.)
While I still make many of the old college standbys, I’ve added some twists. For example, my ex introduced a new ingredient into the recipe: simmering the sauerkraut and kielbasa with a can of diced tomatoes.
Having received a new Crockpot for Christmas from my sister Kim, I figured this meal would be a great way to break in the new appliance. After simmering for a few hours, I put on some boiling water, cooked up the pierogies, and enjoyed dinner.
While I really enjoy the sauerkraut and tomato combination, I found that the kielbasa softened up quite a bit from the braising. In the future, I will likely return to pan grilling the kielbasa. Also, depending upon the time available, I like to pan fry the pierogies with diced onions.
But, this is essentially a 2-pot meal that is filling, inexpensive, and provides plenty of leftovers. However, I would hesitate to make this for a date, especially if you only have one bathroom.
Polish Blowout Recipe
2 cans of sauerkraut
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 package of kielbasa
1 package of pierogies (I like Mrs. T’s “Potato & 4 Cheese Blend”)
In a large pot or slow cooker, combine the sauerkraut and tomatoes. Allow to simmer for at least one hour.
The kielbasa can be prepared either by cutting into bite size rounds and including it with the tomato & sauerkraut mixture or by pan frying butterflied sections. I prefer the latter.
Cook pierogies per package instructions.