Utopenci (oo-tow-pen-see) is a traditional Czech appetizer we discovered this fall while vacationing in Central and Eastern Europe. These spicy pickled sausages also known as “drowned-men” are commonly found in pubs throughout the Czech Republic. Usually served with a slice of hearty dark rye and a pivo (Czech for beer), it is easy to see why this treat is so popular. Utopenci is very easy to make, the only hard part is waiting a couple of weeks for the pickling process before being able to enjoy them.
One of the things I really like about this appetizer is that it is very easy and fun to customize. I have used the same basic brine but have made several versions using different types of sausages as well as assorted peppers and other vegetables. Utopenci would be an interesting addition to any holiday cocktail party, and I know that football fans will absolutely love this treat at half time with a cold beer. So get a batch started today for the holiday season. Hope you all enjoy these as much as we do!
- 2½ cups water
- 1½ cups white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp whole all spice
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 pounds of kielbasa hot dogs, or other thick pre-cooked sausages
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
- jalapeno or other peppers optional
- mustard stone ground or Dijon
- 2 quart size wide mouth mason jars
Thoroughly clean 2 quart jars or 1 two-quart jar. Sterilize in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
In a sauce pan combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices and heat over medium heat until almost boiling. Reduce to low and allow to simmer while you prepare the sausages.
Thinly slice the onion and any other peppers or veggies you might like to add to your pickled meat.
Cut the sausages into about 2" pieces. With a sharp knife cut a slit into the section of meat but not all the way through. With a table knife spread a small amount of mustard in the cut followed by a few slices of onion or pepper.
Place a layer of onion and garlic in the bottom of the jars. Using tongs carefully place the Utopenci in the jar alternating layers of sausages and onions.
Carefully pour the brine into the jars making sure everything is covered. Be sure to spoon in the peppercorns and bay leaves.
Allow to cool before placing a lid on the jars.
Place in the fridge and allow to pickle for at least 2 weeks. Serve with a hearty rye toast, some mustard, and of course a cold beer.
Have fun experimenting using different meats, peppers, and other vegetables. Utopenci is best after it is allowed to pickle for about 2 weeks. Sausages with thin or no casings work the best. Use a wide mouth jar and tongs to position the drowned-men.