The Polish Boy: A Cleveland Superfood
By Rahman Colson
It is unfathomable that you have never heard of LeBron James and the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Superman, yes, (the original Superman), the mistake on the Lake, the fumble, the shot… OK, now I’m getting negative. Well anyway, one thing you have probably never heard of that Cleveland is famous for is the “Polish Boy”.
No, it’s not a boy band from Eastern Europe. A “Polish Boy” is a sausage sandwich, usually made with smoked char-grilled Kielbasa stuffed into a giant hotdog roll and drowned in a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, covered with French Fries, and cool creamy Coleslaw.
Trust me, it’s good…
Even Esquire Magazine has fallen under its spell, by dubbing it “soul on white”… as in white bread. And Wendy Williams has even paid homage to its majesty on her name sake show.
As popular as Polish Boys are in town, depending on where in town you are, they can be a little hard to find. When I was a kid, we used to get them on our way to the Cleveland Indians games from the various sidewalk vendors downtown by the stadium. Nowadays, your best bet is “Seti’s”, which is a food truck that’s usually parked at Dean Supply, a restaurant supply in town of Woodland Ave. Additionally, most Soul Food restaurants like B&M’s and Hot Sauce Williams will have the original and they also make their own twist on the classic.
I know you’re probably thinking, “If they are so good, how come I haven’t heard of Polish Boys?
Well, unlike other American cities known as food destinations with favorites like:
Philly Cheese steaks (Philadelphia), Po ‘Boys from Nawlins’ (New Orleans), or even Pink’s Hot dogs in Los Angeles. Like most everything else from Cleveland, there is very little fanfare and respect for the greatness abound. But those that know come and enjoy a great treat, while snobs and the un-sophisticated miss out. Just remember, don’t forget napkins… lots of napkins!
Feeling adventurous? Bring a little Cleveland into your home and try to make your own sandwich?
Below are the basic ingredients and instructions for about 4 sandwiches:
You will need:
- 2 lbs. of potatoes, split cut, washed and peeled, fried in Canola oil and Salt
4 smoked beef kielbasa links boiled. (Optional): quickly deep fry them after boiling
4 white bread hoagie rolls
Coleslaw (either store bought or homemade)
BBQ Sauce: (Optional) Using hot sauce will make it authentic.
Oh yeah again, don’t forget about the napkins…
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