- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Autumn signals not only a change in weather, but the arrival of the football season with its attendant social activities.

Fall football fervor is a familiar phenomenon for me. I grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and remember rooting for Ole Miss, my parents’ favorite team. My mother and dad used to pack the car with blankets and food baskets on Saturday mornings, then rush across the state line to Oxford to attend the University of Mississippi games.

Whether for college, high school or junior high competitions, fans love to gather over food and drink before or after matches. The cool, crisp days of fall seem to pique appetites, and then, of course, there’s the camaraderie of shared support for the team.

I recently discovered a recipe for grilled kielbasa brushed with spicy apricot mustard and served on toasted buns that would be perfect for football fetes. The robust taste of the kielbasa is complemented by a simple mustard sauce flavored with apricot preserves and rosemary. Coleslaw and baked beans would make fine accompaniments.

Although I envision these hearty sausages as the centerpiece of a casual meal offered after a game, they also could be served earlier at a tailgate picnic.

If you don’t have a small portable grill for cooking the kielbasa on-site, you can prepare it at home, using either an outdoor grill or a stove-top grill pan. After the sandwiches are assembled, they should be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil so they stay warm; then they should be packed and transported quickly.

Kielbasa on toasted buns with hot apricot mustard

Vegetable oil for oiling grill rack

1-pound package regular or precooked kielbasa sausage

8 good-quality hot dog buns or long rolls, lightly toasted

Hot apricot mustard (recipe follows)

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion, optional

Oil a grill rack and arrange 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a hot (high temperature) fire. While grill is heating, cut kielbasa into 4 equal links. Cut each link in half lengthwise so that you have 8 pieces. Grill kielbasa until hot and lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. (The internal temperature should be 165 degrees.)

Place each kielbasa link in a toasted bun. Brush links generously with some hot apricot mustard and garnish, if desired, with chopped onion. You may have some mustard left over; save it for another use. Makes 8 servings.

HOT APRICOT MUSTARD:

1 cup apricot preserves

cup hot mustard (see note)

4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Place apricot preserves in a small, heavy nonreactive saucepan. With kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, chop up any large pieces of apricot. Set pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until liquefied, 1 minute or less. Whisk in mustard and continue to cook until mixture becomes almost translucent and starts to simmer, 1 minute or less.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped rosemary. (This can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over low heat.) Makes about 1 cups.

Note: Hot Mister mustard, available in many supermarkets, works particularly well in this recipe.

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