Hasselback Kielbasa makes you proud to be an American

Photo: Kevin Pang

Hasselback potatoes are spuds sliced partway through, brushed with fat, then roasted to an exceptional crispness. The theory is that the more surface area, the more golden-textured opportunities.

One day last week, feeling patriotic, I decided to see whether Hasselbacking would work in different applications. I went down a mental list of what foods improve with a roasted or grilled char. Very quickly, sausage climbed to the top of the charts. (Conceptually, it’s not far from the spiral hot dog.)


Thus began my experiment of Hasselbacking a ringed sausage, smoked and grilled on the grill in my backyard. Here’s a standard pork kielbasa. I sliced the sausage in close intervals, halfway through the top.

Since the kielbasa is fully cooked, grilling it was effortless. I waited until the flames receded and glowing embers remained, then I threw it on top of the grates for four minutes on each side. (I also had a few chunks of hickory wood to amplify its smokiness.)


Here’s the part that is either gratuitous or beautiful, depending on your perspective. As I would for Hasselback potatoes, I drizzled garlic butter over the sausage slits and grilled for a few more minutes. I was hoping the fat could kickstart whatever crispiness the kielbasa might produce.


Well, the interior didn’t char to my ideal crispness, but the kielbasa appeared well-grilled and the smell of garlic butter and smoked pork filled my backyard. So how was it? I say this with no snark, but it tasted like I had smoked kielbasa on the grill, gave it a nice char, then slathered on garlic butter. There’s no nuance, it does not conjure up childhood memories—it may be the most literal-tasting dish I’ve ever come up with. It is deeply delicious.


Note: Something very bizarre happened the night I made this. I was posting my progress on Twitter, when my wife tapped me on the shoulder and showed me her phone. On her Instagram feed was a post from The New York Times Food section for—you guessed it—Hasselback Kielbasa. I will swear on a stack of hot dog sandwiches that the idea was conceived independently. Theirs, though, is in a sheet pan with vegetables. I’m grilling mine over wood fire with butter, like a caveman.


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About the author

Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.