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Bigos Recipe

BigosBigos or Hunters Stew is one of the most popular of Polish foods. It is sometimes called the national dish of Poland. The best thing about Bigos is that there is really no standard recipe, it varies from region to region and from family to family. So each time you eat Bigos, it is likely to taste slightly different. The main ingredients are sauerkraut, cooked cabbage, mushrooms and a variety of meats. It is best to make a large batch since this dish gets better each time it is reheated. Below is the recipe that I have developed over the years, but even it varies depending on what kind of meat I have available.

Bigos Recipe

3 lbs sauerkraut
2 lb head of cabbage
2 lbs cooked and boned ham, pork, beef
2 lbs smoked Polish sausage
1 lb bacon
olive oil for browning meat
12 oz fresh mushrooms
10 cups beef broth
1 cup sweet red wine
10 white pepper corns
10 black pepper corns
3 bay leaves
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
10 allspice berries
15 crushed juniper berries

Cut all meat in 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch cubes. Chop cabbage. Rinse sauerkraut with cold water, drain well. In a large pot, combine sauerkraut, onions, mushrooms, spices, wine and 4 cups of broth. Brown all meat except bacon in oil and add to pot. Cook bacon until slightly crisp, drain on paper towel and add to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Put cabbage in another pot, add the remaining 6 cups broth. Bring to a boil and then cook for about 1 hour uncovered on medium heat. When cabbage is tender, add cabbage and juice to large pot.

Cook on low heat for another hour or more. Remove bay leaves and serve hot.

Notes: Use a good grade of real sauerkraut. Don’t add salt until stew is done and you have tasted it. Usually there is plenty of salt from the sauerkraut, bacon and sausage. Bigos was originally a hunters stew and there are lots of variations. Feel free to substitute you favorite meat, wild game or left overs and vary the seasoning to your taste. If you like a slightly sweet stew, add prunes or cut up apples.

This dish gets better each time it is reheated.