Sikorski Meat Market
Sikorski's isn't the biggest butcher in the area; nor do they have the highest sausage-to-square foot ratio; and the storefront itself is unassuming, a weathered red awning on a relatively sleepy stretch of Manhattan Avenue. Yet something about this place shines thru. And by “something,” I mean terrific meats, freshly smoked sausages, incredibly friendly service, and pillow-soft loaves of Polish Rye.This is the oldest Polish meat merchant in the 'Point. They opened 50+ years ago under a different name; 20 years later, the original owner sold everything to his friend Sikorski. Sikorski is actually a born-and-raised Brooklyn guy, but his Polish dad taught him a thing or two about pork appreciation, and he vowed to uphold the strict standards set by his predecessor and friend: traditional techniques (including an old-fashioned hickory smoker), classic kielbasa recipes, and a love of good fresh meat.The only thing you need to know? Don't eat lunch before you go. I made this mistake, and was inundated with slice after slice of kielbasa samples. (FYI, it's scientifically impossible to refuse free kielbasa. And rude.) The old-guard pork palaces in Greenpoint (Steve's, Polam, etc.) are known for their generosity, but Sikorski's takes it an extra mile. They harbor an understandable affection for their smoked meats, and are more than happy to let their links do the talking... in the form of big chunks offered as tempting samples. Hunks-a-plenty good reader, hunks-a-plenty.
That said, we started with an old favorite, Poland's answer to the “Slim Jim”: Kabanosy. Sikorski's offers 2 types, dry-aged and a moist, mild “fresh.” Great flavor on both, but the butcher saw me nod with approval, then suggested something else. He cut a quick chunk of a slightly darker, thicker air-dried sausage, an “old fashioned Sucha,” and presented it with four confident words: “Try this, better flavor.” Indeed. Terrific flavor: deep and rich, offset by creamy, creamy fat. Great balance, great porkiness, and mellow-yet-firm spicing made this as good a dried link as we've tasted in these parts.
No surprise tho, Sikorski's sets a high standard. Everything (from sausage to ribs) is made on-premises in their old-fashioned smokers. And everything we tried tasted great. Regulars love the uncooked kielbasa biala and plump Krajana, a chunky, lean fresh-tasting link whose girth belies its relative lightness. (This was described as the “healthy” kielbasa... with a knowing smile.) Others go with juicy Wijska, and large plump Slaska.
But to be honest, we're hesitant to dictate. Much of the Sikorski fun comes in tasting, and discovering your own. I think it was either Winston Churchill or the Dali Lama who said, “Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught that every person must pave their own path to sausage bliss.”
Still, Sikorski isn't just about the links. In addition to “authentic Polish sausage” they advertise a full catering service. We tried a tasty, meaty stuffed cabbage that reheated well at home. But most exciting was the daily rotation of assorted smoked porks.
Where to begin? No matter what, try the smoked ribs. They are fantastic: slightly sweet, and not-too-salty. Chew a few to the bone, and delight in the delicate aroma of smoke. And order more than you think; plan on one healthy rack per pork-lover/flavor-savorer. Sikorski's also makes fresh bacon. This is pork belly smoked like the ribs with a sweeter, slightly muskier taste. Try slicing it as a cold cut, or frying up a few slices with farm fresh eggs. The so-called loin of pork was even more tempting, slices of sweet meat that finished smoky and melted in the mouth (thanks to a healthy balance of clear fat). It tasted a lot like their Canadian-style bacon (which I was fortunate enough to eat piping hot and straight from the smoker) but with more flavor (fat). Try a few solo slices, or enjoy with some butter on a delightful slice of Polish Rye with poppy seeds (made fresh daily at the adjacent New Warsaw Bakery).
Bottom-line? Check out Sikorski's and go nuts. This is one of those feel-good experiences that you have to experience firsthand: quality products, manageable selection, and wonderful service. In a word, porktastic.
Sikorski Meat Market
603 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Our favorites: Old-fashioned kielbasa sucha, smoked ribs, smoked loin of pork, Rye bread with poppy seeds