The Easter bunny isn't the only one who's been hard at work this week. In many households, making homemade kielbasa for the holiday meal has been a priority.

While most people imagine a big ham or leg of lamb on the table for Easter, it's the kielbasa that signals the end of Lent for Polish and Slavic families.

"We have a recipe that was passed on from my wife's relatives," Frank Cieplinski, a Southport resident, said of the traditional sausage recipe handed down from his wife Barbara's family. "About 30 years ago we started making it, primarily at Easter."

The Cieplinskis' recipe is simple: ground pork butt, mustard seed, kosher salt, pepper and "lots of garlic."

In recent years, he's had some difficulty finding the right ingredients for the kielbasa, but this year, he was able to buy the pork butt and casings, easily enough, at Stop & Shop. On average, he said, it takes about two hours to make the kielbasa. "We don't grind the pork too much," he said. "We like it kind of chunky."

Cieplinski made 22 pounds and is ready to celebrate Easter in the traditional way. On Saturday, he will follow the Catholic practice of bringing food -- the kielbasa, hard-boiled eggs and rye bread, all tucked into a basket -- to church to be blessed. Then, on Easter morning, he'll sit down with his family to enjoy a breakfast of eggs with both smoked and fresh kielbasa, along with fresh horseradish made by his son. A typical accompaniment for kielbasa, the horseradish gives a "bite" to the sausage. "It's nice and hot," said Cieplinski. "He adds beet juice for color."

Most kielbasa that can be found at supermarkets is smoked, so it merely needs to be heated up. Fresh kielbasa, however, is raw meat and needs to be cooked. To do this, it can be baked in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour or simmered in a pot of water for about an hour, then browned in pan.

More Information

THE SCOOP For authentic Eastern European kielbasa, check out: Eagle Wood Farms at Fairfield Indoor Winter Farmers Market (Saturdays at the Greenfield Hill Grange), 1873 Hillside Road, Fairfield Fairfield Meat Emporium, 849 Kings Highway, Fairfield; 203-696-2322

At Calvin United Church of Christ in Fairfield, where the congregation is largely Hungarian, a kielbasa sale was held last weekend. "The church is very well known for the food we make," said David Heady, a life-long member of the church who headed up the kielbasa-making this year.

"The traditional meal consists of kielbasa and ham, potatoes, sauerkraut and horseradish," he said. The church has been hosting the fund-raiser for years.

"We make about 1,300 pounds," said Heady. "It's a big project. We do it all by hand. It's a good full day of work."

Email Patti Woods at eatdrinkshopcook@gmail.com.

THE SCOOP

For authentic Eastern European kielbasa, check out:

Eagle Wood Farms at Fairfield Indoor Winter Farmers Market (Saturdays at the Greenfield Hill Grange), 1873 Hillside Road, Fairfield

Fairfield Meat Emporium, 849 Kings Highway, Fairfield; 203-696-2322