Polish Hunter's Stew (Bigos) Recipe

Bigos (sauerkraut with sausage and bacon, Poland)
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    120 min
Ratings (15)

Bigos is considered the national dish of Poland. It's a hearty, long-simmered meat-and-sauerkraut stew that goes back centuries.

It was traditionally served at the start of the hunting season, from fall through Shrove Tuesday, or until the family's supply of barrel-cured sauerkraut ran out! Today, it's enjoyed year-round.

Any combination of game, beef, pork, poultry and vegetables works. This recipe is just one version. Bigos also is an excellent way to use up leftover cooked meats, and for the family hunter's quota of venison.

Here is another bigos recipe that will feed a crowd -- perfect for game day!

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 ounce dried Polish borowiki or Italian porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small head fresh cabbage, chopped
  • 1 pound sauerkraut, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 pound smoked Polish sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh Polish sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound leftover boneless meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine, preferably Madeira
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Place prunes and dried mushrooms in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the prunes and mushrooms and let them steep for 30 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened. You can chop the mushrooms and prunes if you wish, but leaving them whole makes for a chunkier dish. Set aside with soaking liquid.
     
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or a large pot with a lid, sauté onion and fresh cabbage in bacon drippings or vegetable oil. When cabbage has collapsed by half, add the sauerkraut, sausages, leftover meat, tomatoes, wine, bay leaf and reserved mushrooms and prunes and their soaking liquid. Be careful not to include the sandy sediment in the bottom of the soaking bowl.
     
  3. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat to low and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding liquid as necessary to prevent burning.
     
  4. When ready to serve, remove bay leaf and any bones from meats, if present. Portion into heated bowls and garnish with a piece of frisée or other fancy greens to resemble the feather in a hunter's hat. Accompany with whole, peeled and boiled potatoes.
     
  5. The longer this cooks, the better it tastes, and it's even better served the next day. It's a natural for outdoors cooking in a cast-iron kettle winter or summer. The dish lends itself well to potlucks and tailgate parties, slow cookers and freezes well.