Autumn, Christmas, Easter, Meat, Polish food, Winter

Polish flavours: Bigos

August 12, 2012

Every bigos starts with a huge pot.
It’s one of these dishes you never make a small amount.
The pot you can see it’s relatively small. At home we would have use a pot twice as big.
This bigos was made for a housewarming party.

Polish Bigos - Hunter's Stew in a pot
So what is bigos?
Bigos is one of the most traditional Polish dishes. It’s also known as a Hunter’s Stew and it is known in Polish cuisine for hundreds of years.
There is not a single recipe for bigos. And it isn’t about exact proportions. It is not even about cabbage type – you can use either sauerkraut or fresh cabbage or both. It isn’t about meat type – you can throw anything you like sausages, fresh pork, beef, cured meat, basically anything you have in a fridge. Well there are vegetarian versions as well, but that’s different story.
It’s just important to use some fat or fatty meat and season it enough and don’t forget mushrooms, it’s hunter’s stew.

Even though it doesn’t look very glamorous it appears very often during Christmas and other occasions like birthdays, name days. It’s perfect meal for a big group of people, it’s easy to make and it’s getting better every time you reheat it. And it freezes well.

PS. Other meaning of bigos in Polish would be big mess.

Polish Bigos - Hunter's Stew in a bowl

Polish bigos*

  • 40-50 g dried mushrooms
  • 1 small white cabbage (around 1 kg), shredded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 juniper berries
  • salt
  • sweet paprika
  • 60 g lard
  • 900 g sauerkraut, chopped
  • peppercorns
  • 4-5 allspice berries
  • 1 glass of chicken broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100 g smoked bacon
  • mix of cured or baked meat (ham, sausages/kielbasa), cubed or sliced
  • mix of fresh pork and/or beef, cubed
  • 4 dried pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 glass of red wine
Boil the dried mushrooms in a glass of water. Leave it to cool.
Place the chopped white cabbage in a big pot. Add bay leaves, juniper berries, pinch of salt, smoked paprika and 2 glasses of water. Simmer the cabbage until soft.
In a separate pot melt a half of the lard and add the sauerkraut. Add peppercorns, allspice berries and a glass of the chicken broth. Mix well and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to low and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
Sauté the onion in the remaining lard for a short time. Add all the meat and brown it (you may need to do it in batches).
Combine all ingredients (white cabbage, sauerkraut, prunes, mushrooms) in the big pot. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium heat. If it is too watery remove some of the liquid. This is a stew not a soup.
Pour the red wine and lower heat to low and simmer covered for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
Season it to your liking.
The more you reheat bigos the better it gets.
Amount of the ingredients is approximate, it up to you if you want more meat go ahead, less meat, no problem. You don’t like it too sour, skip the sauerkraut
Polish Bigos - Hunter's Stew

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  • Reply Amee August 12, 2012 at 19:26

    I love your Polish recipes Magda and I love that you made something called a “Big Mess”. Best of luck in the Blog Awards, I hope you win :)

  • Reply Magda August 13, 2012 at 12:48

    Aw Amee you are sweat. There are so many bloggers that the deserve the award more than I do, but thank you. I always make a big mess ;)

  • Reply Gosia September 15, 2012 at 17:37

    I feel so homey… The recipe unequivocally forecasts the onset of the autumn. As you said, there is not one, nor even two bigos recipes that are the same, but mine is very, very close to yours – how improbable, yet so reassuring!

  • Reply How Polish Christmas smells like? - Magda's Cauldron December 22, 2013 at 21:57

    […] beef roast, chicken, turkey or goose, or probably a few of those. There will be probably as well bigos and white sausage, but that doesn’t matter. The only day that matters is Christmas Eve and […]

  • Reply Dana September 12, 2016 at 10:49

    Hi, how long can I eat it after? I cooked it on Thursday evening, and now it is Monday and I want to have it for my lunch. It has been in the fridge the whole time. Can I risk it? I so badly want it, it was a good batch!

    • Reply Magda October 31, 2016 at 21:41

      Hi Dana, your bigos is probably long gone, but I would say you can eat it on Monday. Best is to try if it smells or tastes funny, otherwise it’s one of the dishes that keep for long. Next time when you know you won’t eat it all just put a batch in a freezer.

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