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The Best Polish Bigos Recipe

Our list of 60+ Polish Recipes would not be complete without bigos, also known as "Hunter's Stew."  It is actually a national Polish dish!  If you go to any Polish event, you will always get four things:  Pierogi, Polish Beer, kielbasa, and Bigos. There are so many recipes for bigos, it is hard to know what is best. Some bigos recipes add tomato paste, some do not. Some have mushrooms, others don't. Caramelized onion is not in all bigos recipes, but we think that is mandatory.  
 
One thing is certain: all bigos recipes will have sauerkraut and some form of meat--pork, beef, sausage, venison, bacon, or veal. The best is some form of smoked pork, hands down. If you can get a hold of smoked pulled pork and mix it with this recipe, then eat on top of sliced rye bread, you will never be the same person again.  Smoked kielbasa is equally as good and more traditional.  
 
The second most important part of this dish is GOOD sauerkraut.  That means it was not made with vinegar, but the old fashioned way--naturally fermented cabbage with just water and sea salt. Cheap sauerkraut in a jar with vinegar will ruin the taste, and it will end up tasting pretty bland and less complex. And, with good sauerkraut, you do not need to rinse it, just drain well. If you have a particularly sour batch of sauerkraut, just add more cabbage.  
 
You can heat this bigos recipe, freeze, heat again, refrigerate, heat again....the flavor only intensifies. In fact, don't even think of eating this the first day, give it a day in the fridge for the flavors to blend. You won't regret the wait.
 

The Best Polish Bigos Recipe 
 

The Best Bigos Recipe -- Polish Hunter's StewThis bigos recipe makes a dish for 8+ people:

  • 4 slices of hickory smoked bacon
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 lb Polish Sausage, quartered
  • 1 lb beef or pork stew meat (or double sausage)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (wild is best)
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves
  • 3-4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1.5 lb. drained sauerkraut (do not rinse)
  • 5 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
  • Mushroom powder (optional)
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped prunes



Bigos RECIPE DIRECTIONS

1.  Caramelize Onions & Mushrooms with Bacon.  Place chopped onions in large stock pot with chopped raw bacon on medium heat. COVER. Mix occasionally until the onions start to brown.  Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Do not make the bacon crispy.

2.  Add meat. Add sausage and all meat, mixing and browning.  If you need more fat, add olive oil. You do not want to over cook the meat, just brown on the outside.  If you use good smoked Polish sausage, you do not need to brown very long.

4.  Add Rest of Ingredients. Put all ingredients together in your large pot, but not the prunes. If there is not enough room, add the cabbage first to reduce it a little. 

5.  Sauté for 2 to 3 hours on low.  Cook until you reduce the liquid and it becomes more of a thick stew. Mix every 20 minutes or so and make sure it is not dry. You can add more red wine or broth if needed. Bigos should always be juicy. Taste, but it will not have the flavor until the next day.  But, you can add more paprika or pepper. 

6.  Add prunes.  Mix thoroughly and heat with prunes for another 10 minutes--until soft.  Enjoy with Rye bread (if you can't wait), or store in fridge.  Really good with Potato Cheese pierogi too--and Cabbage, Mushroom, and Kraut.

(Image above has no prunes, one below is with prunes and a whole wheat walnut bread)

Polish Bigos Recipe -- Hunter's Stew

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About sauerkraut and prunes

A actually rinse sauerkraut. That what my mother did. And her mother. First I squeeze and reserve the sour liquid, then rinse the sauerkraut. It lets you control the acidity of bigos by adding the sour liquid during cooking. Also if sauerkraut is too salty it helps to rinse it. The prunes are a controversial thing, some people doesn't like them. And also in Poland traditionally plums are partly dried and partly smoked to make prunes, with the stone left inside. I put 4-6 whole prunes to bigos and usually nobody eats them, they are too chewy. :-) but the smell and taste they give off is unique.

Sooooo good!!!

The prunes really make this dish special. I used jarred prunes and added 1/2 of the jars liquid to my bigos before letting it simmer for 2 hours. I also precooked my carrots in the microwave in order to cut down the time needed for my bigos to cook and I pre boiled my polish sausage to 1/2 cooked that I made.

Do not add sugar if sour.

Do not add sugar if sour. Add jam, a tablespoon of any kind of fruit jam.

Greatest bigos recipes. Use

Greatest bigos recipes. Use the website always.

This is pretty much how my

This is pretty much how my mum makes bigos so this makes a good recipe for me to follow. What I am missing is dried mushrooms, bay leaf, black peppercorns and cumin seeds. I also like to add prunes. A tip is to put some sugar in it to make it sweeter as the tomatoes can make it a bit sour.

Polish bigos and pierogi

Sounds so good that I'll make it tomorrow =)

Let us know how it turns out!

Let us know how it turns out!

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