HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Is there any traditional Kishka or Stuffed Derma in the US?

When I was a child I loved kishka. The casing was crisp, almost like fried chicken skin, the filling, mostly bread crumbs I assume, tasted of chicken fat and onion. It was a little larger than a hot dog, more like a polish sausage in size and served with a very tasty gravy. I know that cow's intestine is not a commonly available item at the supermarkets, but does anyone know if there is a source for kishka that comes close to the old product? I've had kishka from the big name delis in NY, but none of them come close.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. april 2012
    can you say which Big-Name Delis you've visited. that would be helpful.
    just had a Kishke from Carnegie Deli last week; two fist-sized chunks for $15 [?], heated but not fried in a skillet and therefore no crispy outside; and served with a hideous boat of (pure-salt) gravy on the side. lucky for me, my lovely chinese waiter warned me against the gravy. took one home, and it freezes well.
    It was very like the old kishke that we got from the butcher back in the Bronx: nice burnt orange color, nicely peppery, grind was a bit finer; but less flavorful than I recall.
    the Carnegie feels much changed since my last visit in June of '10. A stranger I met in the VivB theatre said the same thing. was happier with my visit to Katz's and, as I recall, they do have Kishke on their menu. nice to know others enjoy an occasional Kishke.
    Art Schwartz has a recipe of his own devising, probably on his website.

    4 Replies
    1. re: fayga mindl

      I've been to Carnegie, Stage, 3rd Ave, Katz's, Ben's and many others in NY. I've been to Langer's in L.A. (GREAT Pastrami on homemade rye bread), Art's and Jerry's. I've been to just about every Jewish deli in the Boston and South Florida areas.

      The kishka I am talking about has not been made at most deli's (none that I know of) since the 60's. What I am describing is VERY different from what one finds at these delis today.

      Recently I heard about the Romanian Kosher Sausage Company on the north side of Chicago in Rogers Park. Unlike most delis, they use an edible natural casing. I'll have to try it sometime, but I am guessing that unless you use actual beef intestine and chicken fat, you won't get the flavor and crispiness that I remember from my childhood. The closest thing that I can imagine making these days is a chicken skin version, since beef intestine isn't sold at my local supermarket. Buy chicken necks and remove the uncooked skin, then stuff the skin with a moist flour and onion mixture (perhaps chicken fat, beef fat, paprika, matzo meal, seasonings) and stitch it closed before roasting it until the skin is crisp. It's not the same, but it is a truly delicious guilty pleasure.

      1. re: Buzzy2

        Buzz....my grandmother made , what she called HELZEL....stuffed chicken necks with a Kishke type filling....Only she would boil them , let them cool , then crisp them up in a frying pan...I don't remember the exact reciepe, but I know she used some corn meal, flour, onions, chicken fat, salt and pepper.....by the way,,,,we always had these because my grandparents owned an egg farm in Lakewood, Plenty of chciken necks!

        1. re: PHREDDY

          PHREDDY, are you my child? Or, somehow we are related!

          My mother made helzel (sp?). I liked it. It was greasy and crispy, and the inside was as you describe. Perhaps it had some chopped heart, gizzard or liver in it? I remember that the inside was paste-y. The chicken neck skin popped as I bit into it.

          As I am thinking about this now, this would be good Fair Food today! It was so greasy and decadent, with no redemptive nutritional value!

          Although the two are sometimes confused, helzel and kishke are different.

          1. re: liu


            I don't think I am your child, because that would put you somewhere 90....but we could be related,. My grandmother came from what today is called the Ukraine, a city called L'viv....BTW helzel and kiske are similar in that you take a part of an animal and stuff it....but that is it...

    2. I think Sarge's in NYC serves a traditional kishka.

      And isnt kishka one of those things that has 1,000 variations? Each Bubbe did it a bit differently.

      2 Replies
      1. re: AdamD

        not unless your family had a tradition of eating plastic wrapped stuffing......................

        No real cow intestine at Sarge's

      2. Look at online store of Bobak's, very traditional sausage merchant in Chicago. I think they also sell casings etc for making your own. See Bobak reviews on Chicago Yelp.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          Edible casings, including kosher versions, are definitely available and used to make modern day kishka. What is not (easily) available is the actual beef intestine that was used prior to about 1970. The difference between today's edible casings, which impart no flavor at all, and the old style beef intestine, is profound.

          1. re: Buzzy2

            Buzzy, did you go to bungalo colonies in the 60's in upstate NY?....there was a guy who was a butcher that came from NYC on the weekends and sold kishke....if you gave him an order the week before...

            1. re: Buzzy2

              Buzzy I am looking for edible kosher casings, do you know where they are sold? I would love to know. Thanks

              1. re: paprkutr

                Try Empire Kosher in Williamsburg Brooklyn...I think they are on north 2nd street....

          2. our Kosher butcher in NW London still sells (but I don't live there any more :( .....) helzel and kishka stuffings, both glorious and peppery and full of schmaltz. Have not found any in the US sadly.

            1 Reply
            1. Carnegie deli sells it. That's the only one I know of for sure. Kishka was more of a home-style dish, served at every holiday, gaah. The oldsters loved it; I tolerated it.
              You could make some.....ask your butcher about casings, but know that you can also use a chicken neck for a similar thing: stuffed derma.

              11 Replies
              1. re: mamachef

                Sorry, stuffed poultry neck is called helzel
                Kishke is often translated as stuffed derma

                Stuffed Derma is NOT suffed poultry neck skin................

                What Carnegie Deli sells is the modern plastic encased kishke, not what the OP is seeking from childhood, oh how I wish it was

                1. re: bagelman01

                  Oopsk. Just going by what Grandma Esther said, but god knows, my memory is faultly and it's entirely possible that hers was too. : ) Bummer.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    more important than Grandma Esther speech was her cooking..................

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      Amen to that, bagelman01 - and that cooking was perfectly stellar. Oh, for one of her blintzes, some chopped liver, her ethereal matzo balls - Oh, just to be in her kitchen, in her presence, to hear her heavily-accented voice......how I miss her.

                  2. re: bagelman01

                    My mother made stuffed derma (she never called it anything else) and used the skin of a chicken neck. No doubt she learned it from my grandmother, who was the ultimate traditional Jewish cook. I grew up in Brooklyn and never heard of kishke until I moved to LA in the late '70s and went to a Jewish deli restaurant (Eddie Saul's in Encino, long closed). And, there it was served with gravy, something my mother did do.

                    Just like other "traditional" cultural foods, there will be endless debate on this. Kugel, derma, brisket, gefilte fish etc etc.

                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                      What your mother made was Helzel>>>>stuffed poultry neck. Stuffed intestines or now plastic sausage casings are called Kishke.

                      I make both. In August 2013 in a Thread called Pope's Nose on the General Topics board I posted with a picture of Helzel, or what your mother called stuffed Derma


                  3. re: mamachef

                    Sadly, the kishke you find in the deli's taste like sawdust; too much filler. Nothing beats bubbe's

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      You are so correct...they then try to cover it with a brown, gloppy gravy , obviously made from a pre-mixed concoction...yuk!

                    2. re: mamachef

                      MC.....see our previous posts about helzel...was Grandma Ester born here ? if not where did she come from?...as with most dishes they evolved here from what they were elsewhere....

                      1. re: PHREDDY

                        Oh, no - actually, it's GREAT-Grandma Esther, and Grandpa Ed, though to me they were Zaydeh and Bubby. They were Super Duper Old Country. The village Grandma came from in Poland is no longer there, having been smashed first in the pogroms and then again during Hashoah. My Grandpa came from the Ukraine, and the story is the same for his village. They were lucky to get out during The Terror. I don't know the names of their villages, though: my cousin who handles the family genealogy was never able to establish that.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          I thought so....because helzel, was as told to m by my grandmother, for poor people...Kishke was for people who owned a cow or steer and could have it butchered...once you kill the big animal, it had to be consumed or sold....(no walkin coolers back then) and you lost your milk machine......you need bovine intenstine for kishke....chickens were plentiful and were slaughtered weekly generally for Friday night diner, thus why we grew up on helzel....My family came from that part of the world and I visited there three years ago with my brother and 21 of my cousins....I found out why my great-grandmother made such great borscht!!!!

                    3. You are NEARLY in luck as you will need to travel...

                      I am in Melbourne Australia and convinced my local russian deli to make kishke, but cow instestines are no longer sold in most parts of the world but i did find for him Ox intestines.. after some experiments he found the correct size. what they would do is steam it, and then fry it.. but it lacked something -.... then I bought if from them raw, and cooked it in a cholent.. it was magnificent. I worked out that frying it dried out the casing and stopped it being chewy. So nowadays when I want some I get it freshly steam and it is wonderful.

                      The other place I had the most magnificent kishke was at a small restaurant called Deutsch in Meah Sharim in Jerusalem. Being in Israel I thought it would be easy to find but i was completely wrong. The restaurant is nothing to look at, and preferably you can speak Yiddish to order and male .... but the food was magnificent.

                      good luck in your search.. but if you ever get to Jerusalem you will enjoy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Davidb18

                        From my mom, the best source for such things - her mother used to buy the cows intestines. They were small, not large. I'm guessing that they were 1-3 inches in diameter if my memory serves me well. She had to scrape them under running water, outside and inside, for a long time to get rid of anything that might be unhealthy or just plain ugly. One side was smooth and the inside was not. After cleaning, she stuffed them with flour and chicken fat and seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, ground onion) and she would put the kishka in with a brisket to roast, sitting in the juices at the bottom of the pan. The end result was that the outside was mostly crispy and not tough. It was a little like crispy chicken skin. Perhaps she turned it in the pan so that it wouldn't dry out too much.

                        Anyway, it was absolutely delicious with gravy. Mmmmm.

                      2. I took this pic in Jerusalem. The potatoes in the cholent were EXCELLENT.. - my son 13 could not stop eating them. The chicken wings I am sure are only there for the fat as they were not that that... but the Kishke was like my mother had made. It strange how you get used to things as I prefer the skin to be chewy.

                        The other thing I tried recently is to make my own. I got some of the Ox Casing and I bought http://www.msdistribution.be/parve-ki...

                        (which the kosher people here import from the states). I tried quite a few but found this the best... - but it gets a but messy from here...

                        The skin needs to be washed a lot as it is sold in brine. So ran it under water, took off some pieces, ran it again and again to get rid of the brine smell.

                        The i got this frozen log out and left it thaw out. Then I added some chicken skin pieces, some onions and then I re-froze it, but I rolled it into a thinner log than the original so then it was much easier to simply slide it into the skin.

                        Then sealed it up using some cooking string and then cooked it in the cholent. (or you can bake it I guess).

                        The trick to a good cholent is start to boil the potatoes first, (cut them, put them in cold water, boil till you see bubbles) and soak your beans first for 12 hrs

                        It was really good.. but not quite the same as my mom (or that place in Jerusalem). I am really surprised not to be able to buy it in the USA.. but I think the laws are they cow intestine cannot be sold. That stuff they sell in the delis is really awful.. but I am off to Europe in 6 months.. so hopefully I will find some place there..

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Davidb18

                          Do you know the Wayne or Wolf family in Melbourne?

                        2. there was a Jewish deli on the north side of Chicago between Sheridan and Clark street, under the el that made a fantastic kishke. It froze well and crisped up beautiful when baked. I'm living on the Oregon coast now and am near crazed by the lack of the foods I grew up with. If I make the three hour trek to Portland or Eugene, I can buy the usual corn beef, pastrami and los, but can't find smoked sturgeon or kishke. The smoked sturgeon they make here is salty and tough, more like fish jerky than the light, delicate smoked sturgeon I grew up with. Help!!!!

                          4 Replies
                            1. re: fressing in durham

                              I've been to R&D many times but I never saw kishka there, and I have never heard that they sell authentic kishka before. Are you saying that they it is now available from them?

                                1. re: Buzzy2

                                  I think he was referring to the smoked Sturgeon

                            2. hi Rosie

                              Strange that you say it crisped up well as my experiences were completely different in that we always has the kishke cooked in Cholent and so it was always chewy (which is what I really loved about it). My local Russian deli is now making a great kishke and he also fries his up and so his is also crispy. I get mine only steamed as I dont like it crispy...


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Davidb18

                                Most of the time I had kishka it was cooked in a roasting pan with meat (such as brisket) and vegetables, sitting in shallow juices/gravy, so part of it was exposed and that part of the skin (intestine) would get crisp. At my local deli they roasted it in a pan with gravy, but still exposed so that the upper portion got crisp.

                                1. re: Davidb18

                                  Where is your local Russian deli and what is the name? Does he use beef intestine?

                                  1. re: Davidb18

                                    I am in Melbourne Australia. Beef intestine use I think is illegal in a lot of countries which is why it is so hard to get but I had the real thing in Jerusalem. My local Russian deli is in Balaclava, Melbourne Australia. I found for him some Ox intestine which is very similar and legal here. There was some hit and miss getting the right size consistently but he now sells it virtually daily.

                                  2. Harold's in Raritan, NJ has a Derma that a friend of mine is very fond of. I'm not really a fan so I couldn't tell you if it's good or not. He raves about it though.