Illustration for article titled 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.)

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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.

Illustration for article titled Hasselback Kielbasa makes you proud to be an American

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.)

Illustration for article titled Hasselback Kielbasa makes you proud to be an American
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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.

Illustration for article titled Hasselback Kielbasa makes you proud to be an American
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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.

Illustration for article titled Hasselback Kielbasa makes you proud to be an American
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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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Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.

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