Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew) – Go Bigos or Go Home

I don’t often get requests for Polish food, but when I do, they’re usually for bigos. Which makes perfect sense, since this meaty stew is one of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever taste. It’s also low-carb, highly nutritious, and very simple to make, as long as you don’t consider having to wait a day to eat it, “complicated.”

While you can eat this as soon as it’s made, and I bet most of you do, it’s much better the next day, as all the flavors have time to properly meld together. You can also really customize this to your personal tastes by changing up which meats you use.

Traditionally, this is made with wild game, such as venison, boar, and other shootable animals, but is perfectly acceptable, if not amazing, using easier to find domestic livestock. Regardless of which meats you include, be sure to use a lot of them, as I think this stew should be at least 50% meat.

Since you can, and should make this ahead of time, it’s perfect for feeding large groups, especially when the weather turns cold and dreary. But, no matter what it’s doing outside, I hope you give this a try, and have a pot simmering inside soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 packed cups drained sauerkraut
1 small head green cabbage, quartered and sliced (2 pound head before trimming)
4 strips bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb polish sausage links, sliced (or any other sausage)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 pitted prunes, diced
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked until soft and chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 large bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste


Trevor J. said...

This looks great! Thanks so much for this one. Good Polish recipes are hard to come by now that Grandma's gone, but this dish really brings me back! :)

Jess González said...

This looks delicious. I'll be making this for my boyfriend's upcoming birthday, since he loves Sauerkraut.

Al Pollick said...

Looks delicious!

Patricia Borron said...

Oh, my goodness. I will be making this soon. The weather is perfect for this.

dzidziuś said...

I am polish and this is surely not the way my mother grandmother and grand grand mother used to make traditional polish bigos but it looks so great and interesting that I am definitely gonna to give it a try!

David said...

and a good (loving) spoonful of thick sour cream, or labneh does add to the experience

David said...

Sorry, added on top when served,

Shade tree said...

Could you try to make some Gluh wine or mulled wine. It was a really great drink my wife and enjoyed in the marketplats in Germany during Christmas time.

john said...

Chef John - long time fan, first time commenter

Having made this many times, I can attest to all of your superlatives - this is an excellent dish!

In my version I use carrots instead of prunes and add a ton of garlic, basil, marjoram and hot sauce. I don't drain the kraut and even add some beef stock. But I also throw it in the oven after bringing it to temp on the stove for a couple of hours. Might be the reason that I can I eat it the same day!

It made my day seeing your version of this - Bigos has now hit the big time!

James Payne said...

My wife is allergic to mushrooms how much honey do you have to use

Unknown said...

Chef, if one were to use honey instead of prunes, how much do you recommend, and when in the process should one add it? Thanks!

Christine Cullinan said...

Wow, that's looks delicious. I wouldn't think to put prunes in a stew, And Fall is here. I miss a lot of old-school European cabbage dishes. Questions: I have some friends and co-workers who hunt venison. Would different cuts or preparation matter in cooking venison for this stew? I would love to make this stew for them with venison instead of them giving me deer jerky every season.

Paul Smith said...

Chef John,
Many thanks for this receipe, it looks delicious. I was wondering if there was an alternative to the Caraway seed?, as I have young ones who are not yet gourmands and I do not want to put them off trying to be adventurous.

Michael Habeb said...

Dear Chef John,

Forgive me if I'm stepping out of line, but I am seeking some answers to just a few of the plethora of questions I have about a french onion soup I attempt. Do you have an email or similar manner in which to communicate or shall we use this public blog.

PS I've pleased my family a number of times with your recipes and have always given you credit and I still look like the hero.

Sincerely, Michael Habeb

William Hepfer said...

Can I just change which meat I use as I am not sure which direction I'll be going up down or sideways?

Łukasz Kuriata said...

Greetings from Poland and bon appetit!

Mark said...

OMG! My wife was talking about going to some fund-raising dinner this weekend that was serving pork and sauerkraut and then lamenting how it probably wouldn't taste that good and that if I would make it it would be better. Given the challenge I started my search by wondering how Chef John would handle the problem and lo and behold it's the latest recipe! Gonna pick up some prunes, mushrooms, etc and try this weekend. And by the way, the wife is Polish.

Morgan Black said...


Wolfy Daddy said...

This dish basically (with many local variations) is goulash with sauerkraut, which is known as Szegediner Gulasch in Austria (and also in parts of Germany and Switzerland). In Hungary, it is known as Székely-gulyás after the supposed inventor of this dish, Székely József.

One of my favorites! Many thanks for this version!

Dawn Bense said...

My husband and I watch all of your videos as soon as they are posted. We were at the grocery store wondering what to cook this weekend and I remembered this video! So glad I did. I used golden raisins I had left from another recipe and used fresh kielbasa because I love how that tastes with sauerkraut. I made some sour cream mashed Yukon gold potatoes to serve with it. So yummy! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

Nancy Wisseman said...

Are your newer recipes, including this one, on Allrecipes.com like some of your other ones?

Jenny Y said...

I love your blog, thank you for your video and picture, they look really tasty. I think I will try to make it by myself one day. I hope that there will more posts like this!

Jarek Chabros said...

25% Polish - Grandmother's or Grandfather's side?

KitchenWitch said...

This look really tasty! I think this would be a great crockpot meal. Thanks! It reminds me of casoulet, which is my favorite.

- Meredydd Cooper

Philip Lemmens said...

'm making this for the hunters this November Looking forward to using venison.

Janek Rebalski said...

Hello, Chef John! Marjoram is traditionally part of the spice mix. Bigos is best after at least third reheating on the third day! Wild forest mushrooms are what gives bigos the true "hunter" character. Thank you for the recipe!