“Bigos or “Hunter’s Stew” is real soul food
Bigos can be classified as Poland’s national dish.
There are many individual recipes for Bigos (probably as many as cooks in Poland). It is a savoury dish, traditionally made with sauerkraut and meat. It used to be cooked on a camp fire and Polish hunters would add whatever meat they had to hand, for example venison or other game. It is basically a stew of any kind of meat and/or sausage and sauerkraut. Smoked meats (like polish kiełbasa) are great, adding flavour along with juniper berries, bay leaf, caraway etc.
The real trick to develop the flavours, is to cook it for a long time, on a low heat and keep reheating it every day. It is great for freezing too – I freeze portions in plastic containers, after it is first cooked.
2 or 3 one-litre jars of Sauerkraut (I like the Krakus brand)
3 Tbs oil
2 large onions chopped
250grm beef cut to 1 inch pieces
250grm pork belly or pork shoulder cut to 1 inch pieces
250grm Polish Kiełbasa or similar smoked sausage thinly sliced
50gr dried Porcini mushrooms
5 Juniper berries
3 bay leaves
1/2 tbs caraway seeds
5 pitted prunes chopped
Salt & pepper
1. In a small bowl, pour 1 cup of hot water over the Porcini mushrooms to cover them, and set aside. Also pour some hot water over dry prunes and let them soak and soften.
2. Drain the sauerkraut into a sieve – I like to rinse it 2 or 3 times with cold water, and then drain.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions, cook on a low heat until soft and lightly golden. Add Kiełbasa and keep frying for a few minutes.
4. In a separate pan, brown the beef and pork in some oil for a few minutes (until brown all over) .
5. Drain the Porcini mushrooms and the prunes (save all the water!) and roughly chop them.
6. In a large heavy pot place all bigos ingredients: drained sauerkraut, onion, all fried meats, chopped mushrooms and water, prunes and water, herbs & spices. Mix it all well, cover and start cooking! Do add some water or chicken stock if it appears too dry.
7. Cook on a low heat for at least 2 hours. It will get better and better each day you reheat it.
Serve as a main dish with good rye bread or as a side dish with your steak or schnitzel and mash potatoes.
Tip: I like to add some chopped fresh white cabbage to this stew before cooking – it means that I will have more bigos – but it also mellows the sour flavour of the sauerkraut.
Chopped onion, meats, Kiełbasa, soaking mushrooms and prunes
Fry your meats, onion & Kiełbasa
Sauerkraut & cabbage (if using) ready to go!
Mix it all together and cook slowly on a low heat.
Smacznego (Bon Appetite)!
Marzena is one of the great staff who you will deal with if you are looking for Forster holiday properties or Forster Real Estate, she made the sea change several years ago, and she and her husband Rob, live in Smiths Lake, where they holiday rent