One Pot Bigos – Hunters Stew From Poland

A bowl of Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland , made with assorted meat, sauerkraut and a hint of spices
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Bigos  is a  traditional  meat  stew  from Ploand.  This  hearty stew is  made with assorted  meats, sausages and   sauerkraut,  all simmerered  togeter  for  houors  creating  complex,  tantalizing flavors. 

A bowl of Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland , made with assorted meat, sauerkraut and a hint of spices

Loosely translated   Bigos  means  hunter’s  stew.  consider  it  as  the  region’s  version of   Kitchen  sink  soup.   Use  any  meat/s  you have  on hand   with   any spicy sausage  and  sauerkraut  to make  this  dish.   This is   a perfect  way to  use up all those  leftover  cuts of meat.

…. as  I was  writing this , the   tought  struck me  “there  is  no such thing as   leftover  cuts of  meat  for us  urban  folks!”   The  joys  of  hunter  gathering  lifestyle  is  lost  on  us , but  let’s  just pretend  for a  bit and make  it anyway. 

Eat the  world  challenge

When  eat  the world  challenge  chose Poland  for  the month of  December –  it seemed  quite  natural to pick  the national dish.  Although I  love  sauerkraut I have  NEVER  cooked with it.   That  was a  firts !  And  well it  is  December  and  COLD outside.  What   better to serve on a cold  winter  night  than  a long simered meaty  stew?

Note :  Checkout  more   eat the  world  recipes  below .

Traditional recipe

Bigos  is  a  verytraditional    dish made   by   generations of  grandmas.  Every one  had  their own  version  using  different cuts of meat (game, pork, beef..),  sausage  and   pickles (sauerkraut)  along with what ever  else  the  family fancied.    I am sure  if  I had a  polish   grandmother she  would  “pooh-pooh“ (or the  polish version of  it ),  this bigos.

Meat ,  meat  and more  meat

The  star  ingredient  here is  the  meat. The  choice  of  meat  and cuts  are  entirely upto  you.Though  I  would  recommend    using a  heartier/ a  bit  gamey   meat  rather  than   going  with  poultry.   This is a  stew  that  can  accommodate  bold  flavors  and  that is  the way to  go.    Use at  least  one   each of fresh  cut  of  meat , sausage  and  bacon. Here are  some  options

  • Pork (preferably shoulder)
  • Beef (Stew meat or chuck )
  • Smoked  kielbasaor  any spicy  hard sausage  that  holds  its  shape in the  stew.
  • Venison  
  • Bacon (Must!)
  • Lamb

….  anything  else you  fancy .

iNgredients for bigos the hunter's stew from Poland. Meat , sauerkraut and spices

Vegetables and  fruit

Other  than  sauerkraut/cabbage   vegetables seemed  like  an after thought  in most of  the   recipes that  I had  sampled.  I prefer  to add  carrots  or  mushrooms, but   feel free  to  add as  much or  as little of  these  as  you like.

Dried  fruit  is added  to the  stew to  counter  the  sauerkraut’s  acidity.   My family has  told  me   in no uncertain  terms  that they  do not  appreciate   finding   bits  of  dried  fruit  in the stew!  If  you  are  of  the  same  mindset   rinse  the sauerkraut very well  before  adding to the  stew. The  acidity will be greatly reduced  and  there  may not be  any  need  to add  dry  fruits  or  any sweeteners  to  balance  the  dish.

Stock / Wine

The  liquid  you  add  to the   stew can be  a  mix  stocks,   broths , wine  and water.   Use   the ones   you like.  Personally I use a  mix of  chicken   and vegetable  stock   in the  stew and  wine   to pass  time  when waiting  for it  to  finish cooking. 

Making Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland

Make in bulk

This is  like aged wine,   tastes  better as  it  matures.   This    stew does  not spoil  easily  and  stays  fresh, and  tastes  better, after a  day or  so. In  colder climates  you  could  store  it  in the  pantry  and reheat  as  needed  for a  couple  of days.  I am   not recommending  that you  do it though, unless   it is  40°F in the  house ,  don’t  get  me  in trouble  with  the Food Police  please !!!

If  you  are thinking  of  serving  something  traditional  and different for  the  Christmas dinner  this is  the   recipe to try.  Make  it a couple  days  ahead of  time ,   cool  to  room temperature   and   refrigerate.  It stays   fresh  for 3 to 4  days.

Paleo

All right,  so you havea  few friends  who  swear by the  paleo  diet.  This is  what you  serve  them.   For  the  rest of  us   give  a  piece  of  crusty bread,   some potatoes (traditional  side) or better  yet , serve  it in a  bread  bowl! 

A bowl of Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland, made with assorted meats and sauerkraut

How to  Serve

The stew is typically served   with rye bread or potatoes.  I didn’t  have  rye  bread and  am not  a big  fan of  potatoes either –  but  I would love  to have it  in a sour  dough   bread bowl  or  just serve  it  with some crusty bread.   This  being the  season  I would  love to   have some  mulled  wine or    even  my home made   spiced  wine with it.

Try these  breads with Bigos 

Tips

There are  only two  secrets  to  making  tasty Bigos – taste ,taste and  taste and  sauerkraut !

Here is  the   recipe  for   one  pot  bigos –  with instructions   for  stove  top  cooking  and  Instant  pot  ot  other  pressure  cookers. 

5 from 1 vote
A bowl of Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland, made with assorted meats and sauerkraut
One Pot Bigos
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Active Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
 

A  hearty  stew made  with   assorted  meat  and   cabbage,  bigos  is  the national  dish of  Poland.     Here is a  one pot   version  that  is  easier  to make and   reatins  all the  complex flavors. 

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Poland
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 650 kcal
Author: Syama
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Pork / Beef Notes
  • 1 lb Uncured Bacon
  • 1 lb Keilbasa or similar
  • 4 C Cabbage Chopped (1 small head)
  • 1 Onion Small
  • 1 C Carrots Chopped
  • 1 C Mushrooms Sliced
  • 2 lbs Sauerkraut in brine
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Minced
  • 2 C Beef or Chicken Broth Notes
  • ½ C Prunes Pitted
  • 1 Tbsp Caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Juniper Berries optional
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbsp oil if needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the pork/beef into 1 inch cubes. Cut the bacon into 1 inch slices. Slice the sausage into bite size pieces. Chop the cabbage , onions and carrots and slice the mushrooms. Mince the onions. Rub the caraway seed in the palm of your hand and or crush lightly with a mortar and pestle. Drain all the juices out of the sauerkraut and rinse if desired.

Stock pot version
  1. Heat the stockpot over medium heat with a light drizzle of oil. When hot add the sliced bacon and cook for a  few  minutes, stirring  occasionally, until all the bacon fat is rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and use later for garnish if desired.

  2. Add the  meat  to the bacon  fat in batches. Stir and turn the meat a few times and let it brown lightly on all sides.  Remove each batch from the pan and reserve before adding the next one. If needed add a little oil.

  3. Once the last batch of meat is removed from the pan  add  the  sausage  to it  and  let  it  turn  lightly brown on  both   sides. Remove  and  reserve.

  4.  Add the garlic and chopped onion to the pan. Stir and cook for about a minute until the onions soften. Add the caraway seeds and stir. Add the sausage and let  it  cook  until cook for a minute. Add the tomato paste to the pan and mix in . If needed add ¼ C of the stock to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  5. Return the meat to the pan, stir and cook for a minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms sauerkraut and cabbage to the pan and let cook for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and give off a water. Sprinkle the juniper berries and the prunes (if using ) on top. Pour the remaining broth over it. (Notes)
  6. Cover and let simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours checking on the stew about 40 minutes into cooking. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. If thick stew is preferred let it simmer uncovered for the last 10 to 20 minutes of cooking. For a thinner version add more stock/water/wine as desired.
Instant Pot / Electric pressure cooker
  1. Turn on the saute mode and follow the above steps until the stock is added. Close the lid and set the vent to sealing position. Set the IP on manual program at high pressure for 40 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes (careful while opening the vent there will be more steam to release).
  2. Taste and adjust salt. Press saute mode and thicken to desired consistency.
  3. Let cool and come to room temperature before serving. Tastes better the next day !
Recipe Notes
  • Pork shoulder / belly are all good cuts for this stew. If using a fattier version , drain the fat from the pan and add oil if needed.
  • Substitute beef / lamb for pork
  • If the acidity of the sauerkraut is too strong adjust with brown sugar, but if serving the next day let the stew sit mature before adjusting for taste.
  • I used 50 – 50 beef and chicken broth. Use what ever you have in the pantry or substitute 20 – 50 broth and dry red wine.
  • The vegetables used give off a lot of water, so do not add more stock initially.
  • In IP the moisture loss is minimal the the stew will be thinner than the stovetop version.
  • Browning  the  meat  increses  the  flavors,  but  when you are  in  a  hurry render  the bacon  fat  and  add  eveything   else  to the  pot  at  the  same  time , let  it  slow  cook  or  follow the  IP/pressurecooker  directions.   

Calorie  values  are approxiate.  It is calculated  based  on  6  servings  and   varies  depending  on  serving  size  and the  actual  ingredients  used. 

Bigos - the delicious hunter's stew from Poland

Check out all the wonderful Polish dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. If you are a food blogger, click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

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Evelyne: Polish White Borscht Soup Recipe

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    9 thoughts on “One Pot Bigos – Hunters Stew From Poland

    1. That looks so good! I was tempted to make a Bigos recipe for this challenge, but then went down a rabbit hole in a different direction. I’m really glad you made it so I can reference your recipe and try it myself. It looks like my kinda soup (I love sauerkraut!).

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