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Football Food: Nueske's Bacon and Smoked Kielbasa Casserole

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This week we're embracing the flavors of Autumn with this easy-to-make, ridiculously delicious gameday meal.

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We're in midseason form now.
We're in midseason form now.
ndmspaint

So let's go ahead and clear the air right now:  we're not doing crab legs this week.  In fact we're not doing anything related to our opponents because I have a much more personal agenda I need to entertain if you'll allow it.  Let me first offer you two words to read before you decide to hastily jump to the comments section to express your disdain:  bacon and sausage.  Bacon.  AND sausage.  Not bacon OR sausage, bacon AND sausage.  Together in the same dish.

But before we get to that, I need you to know that I love bacon.  I know, you love bacon too.  I'm not trying to get in a fanboy war with you to see who loves bacon more, but let's just say that, before the Stanford game two weeks ago when I tweeted an mspaint of a piece of Nueske's applewood smoked bacon wearing an Everett Golson jersey, and it subsequently got favorited by Nueske's themselves, I was through the roof with excitement:

(If you aren't familiar with Nueske's, they're a family-run business based out of Wisconsin responsible for producing my favorite bacon of all time.  You'd think normal bacon at baseline is already at the ceiling of how ridiculously good something can taste, but trust me, Nueske's takes bacon to the next level).

So the next thing I know, I'm getting followed by Nueske's on Twitter.  This means the makers of the world's best bacon and various other applewood smoked meats feel like I have enough worthwhile stuff to say to warrant spending precious moments away from making bacon on.  "Hey Bob, after you finish loading up that smokehouse with a delicious assortment of meats, let's go get a drink of water and see what Paint has been drawing."   It just floors me.

Hopefully you can appreciate why I would like to take this budding relationship to the next level as soon as possible.  I knew I'd have the chance to do just that when I saw a recipe from Nueske's in my feed a few days after my bacon Golson:

Alright so maybe I'm falling victim to some form of advanced marketing that goes way over my head here, but I really feel that was personalized for me.  That whole thing is basically saying "Hey Paint, you should make this for your next Football Foods."  I couldn't agree with you more, Nueske's. Hey everybody, let's make bacon and kielbasa casserole.

Nueske's Bacon and Smoked Kielbasa Casserole

(modified from this Nueske family recipe)

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

-32 oz saurkraut
-2 tart apples (I used honeycrisps) cubed 1/2 inch
-1 large russet potato cubed 1/2 inch
-1/2 large onion diced
-7 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
-1 lb kielbasa cubed 1/2 inch
-chopped green onion for garnish

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Method:

First let's get that bacon going.  Heat up a large heavy bottomed pot, the pot that you will be using to make the casserole in, and start frying the bacon.

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While that's going, start dicing up your kielbasa...

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...and the potato, apples, and onion.

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Tend to your bacon.  Once the fat starts rendering I like to bunch it all in a corner and baste it with its own fat as often as possible.

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Take the bacon out and let it drain on some paper towels once it looks like it's about ready.  Oh come on, you know how to make bacon.  We're both just going through this part for the pictures.

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I modified the recipe from the original to include an extra strip of bacon for immediate consumption.  You might want to go one or two more strips.  Another modification I made is omitting butter.  See, what we have left in that pot is bacon fat.  Bacon fat will get the job done just as well as butter, if not better.  And remember this isn't any old bacon fat, this is Nueske's bacon fat.  It's probably good for you.  (disclaimer:  ndmspaint is not a doctor and therefore might express dietary opinions devoid of any factual basis).  I'll leave it up to you to decide how much you might want to drain out.  Once you've got the desired amount of bacon fat left in your pot, toss the diced onion in and brown.

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Meanwhile, crumble up your bacon.  Try your best not to eat the bacon.  You need this bacon for the recipe.

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Next toss in the rest of the ingredients, reserving half of the bacon for garnish.  Cover and simmer for a half hour, stirring occassionally.

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During that half hour, just try your best not to eat all of the bacon that's left.  You need the bacon for garnish.  This was all I had left after a half hour:

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After a half hour, make sure the potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife or fork, and then serve in bowls topped with green onion and the sad amount of bacon you left yourself with:

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Serve with a delicious fall beverage.  I'm opting for Almanac's Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine, which in my opinion you'd be hard-pressed to find a better pumpkin ale out there.  Not overly sweet, big, balanced, and a perfect match for the zesty smoky and slightly sweet apply bacony kielbasa goodness that just came out of your kitchen.  Please enjoy!

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