Polish Hunter’s Stew Recipe (Bigos)

AuthorChrisCategory, DifficultyBeginner

Bigos or Polish Hunter's Stew is a rich sauerkraut dish. It’s warm, filling, perfect for cold winter days, and it’s a crowd pleaser. It's also the perfect way to use up any sauerkraut and sausage you might have hanging around in your fridge.

OK, it’s a crowd pleaser when I make it, and the crowd consists of my family. It is not a crowd pleaser when your neighbor’s father makes it, improperly stores it in jars, and you and your whole family (minus the one person who didn’t eat any Bigos) spend the next three days in the bathroom. That was a couple of years ago, and it completely put us off Bigos. That’s not what we had in mind for a New Year’s cleanse.

I’m from Pennsylvania where it is a New Year tradition to make pork and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes. They say it comes from the Amish and that it brings good luck. With that tradition in mind, we decided to try our hand at Bigos again this year. I am proud to say that everything turned out as planned.

Everybody has their own Bigos recipe, and I am convinced (despite our previous adventures) that everybody's is good. I invite you to check out my own recipe. Smacznego to you!

Yields20 Servings
Prep Time25 minsCook Time2 hrsTotal Time2 hrs 25 mins

INGREDIENTS
 2 lbs sauerkraut
 1 lb fresh cabbage
 1 large carrot
 1 onion
 4 cloves of garlic
 ¼ lb mushrooms, any kind
 20 prunes
 ¾ cup tomato paste
 1 tbsp honey
 2 links of smoked sausage
 1 lb beef, pork, or venison
 ¼ lb smoked bacon (optional)
 salt and pepper, to taste
 1 tbsp marjoram
 1 tsp cumin, whole not ground
 3 allspice berries
 3 bay leaves
 3 juniper berries, crushed
 2 cups red wine, sweet or semi-sweet

How to make Bigos
1

Chop or grate the fresh cabbage and start cooking in a pot or crockpot with some water. Chop the sauerkraut (rinsed a bit if you prefer a milder stew) and add to the pot. Add the carrot, sliced or grated. Add water as needed. Some folks use only sauerkraut without fresh cabbage, and it is delicious as well.

2

Fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sausage. Boil or fry the remaining meat. Use any and all meat you'd like from smoked sausage, beef, pork, ham, fried bacon, or venison.

3

Now we need all ingredients simmering in the pot so add everything - the cooked meat and mushrooms, the prunes, whole or chopped, the spices and wine to taste, honey, and tomato paste. Adjust ingredients and proportions to your family’s taste. If you’d like a thicker stew, add some flour as a thickener. Be prepared to be on “pot duty” in the kitchen. Somebody’s got to keep stirring the Bigos so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Pour yourself a glass or two of the remaining Bigos wine. Cook the stew forever (or 90-120 minutes) until everything is soft and yummy.

4

For best results and softer meat, leave the finished product for the night. I leave it wrapped up on the porch. The cabbage and meat will be completely softened and the color will darken. Serve with some good bread and butter. Polish breakfast of champions 🙂

Smacznego!

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS
 2 lbs sauerkraut
 1 lb fresh cabbage
 1 large carrot
 1 onion
 4 cloves of garlic
 ¼ lb mushrooms, any kind
 20 prunes
 ¾ cup tomato paste
 1 tbsp honey
 2 links of smoked sausage
 1 lb beef, pork, or venison
 ¼ lb smoked bacon (optional)
 salt and pepper, to taste
 1 tbsp marjoram
 1 tsp cumin, whole not ground
 3 allspice berries
 3 bay leaves
 3 juniper berries, crushed
 2 cups red wine, sweet or semi-sweet

Directions

How to make Bigos
1

Chop or grate the fresh cabbage and start cooking in a pot or crockpot with some water. Chop the sauerkraut (rinsed a bit if you prefer a milder stew) and add to the pot. Add the carrot, sliced or grated. Add water as needed. Some folks use only sauerkraut without fresh cabbage, and it is delicious as well.

2

Fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sausage. Boil or fry the remaining meat. Use any and all meat you'd like from smoked sausage, beef, pork, ham, fried bacon, or venison.

3

Now we need all ingredients simmering in the pot so add everything - the cooked meat and mushrooms, the prunes, whole or chopped, the spices and wine to taste, honey, and tomato paste. Adjust ingredients and proportions to your family’s taste. If you’d like a thicker stew, add some flour as a thickener. Be prepared to be on “pot duty” in the kitchen. Somebody’s got to keep stirring the Bigos so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Pour yourself a glass or two of the remaining Bigos wine. Cook the stew forever (or 90-120 minutes) until everything is soft and yummy.

4

For best results and softer meat, leave the finished product for the night. I leave it wrapped up on the porch. The cabbage and meat will be completely softened and the color will darken. Serve with some good bread and butter. Polish breakfast of champions 🙂

Smacznego!

Polish Hunter’s Stew Recipe (Bigos)

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah A. Atkins
    December 31, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    OK; I’ll try it but it will take me a looooong time to eat 20 servings. I see freezing in its future.

    • Reply
      Chris
      January 1, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Freezing is a great idea, and I can say from experience that it freezes well. It’s only 20 servings if you eat just a cup per person 😉
      Smacznegp to you!

  • Reply
    Aneta Nessel
    January 9, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Making it today. 1 hr to go!

    • Reply
      Chris
      January 10, 2021 at 8:23 am

      It’s a perfect day for it. Smacznego to you!

  • Reply
    Donna Lollis
    March 25, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Great family recipe, brings back memories from my childhood from my Polish grandmother and mother. Any pierogi’ recipes, to share….I would love to make them with my family, as we did when I was younger. Kind regards and thank you.

    • Reply
      Chris
      March 26, 2021 at 6:53 am

      I love how food brings back memories of special times and in this case, special people in our lives. I think that’s why people want to make those dishes just right, the way their grandma did. I am a pierogi master, if I do say so myself 😉 Despite living in Poland, I didn’t make pierogi until I had my own kids. Also Babcia was making them for us at least once a month. Now, we make pierogi all together as a family, making memories for the future.

      So far, I have only written up one recipe for pierogi – pierogi ruskie https://kielbasastories.com/recipes/potato-and-cheese-pierogi-pierogi-ruskie/ and also a recipe for dough. They can be found under recipes, pierogi. I most often make ruskie, followed my blueberry (yum!) and then meat, cabbage and mushrooms, and buckwheat and mushrooms. Only I like the buckwheat and mushrooms in the family, but that’s not a problem 😉 I have to get the rest of those recipes on here I think asap.

      Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting. Smacznego to you!

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