Hunter's Stew (Bigos)

Bigos Hunter's Stew

A savory stew of cabbage and meat! Typical ingredients include fresh and fermented white cabbage (sauerkraut, kapusta kiszona in Polish), various cuts of meat and sausages, often whole or puréed tomatoes, honey and mushrooms. The meats may include pork (often smoked), ham, bacon, beef, veal, sausage, and, as bigos is considered a hunters' stew, venison or other game; leftover cuts find their way into the pot as well. It may be seasoned with pepper, caraway, juniper berries, bay leaf, marjoram, pimento, dried or smoked plums and other ingredients.


One 33 ounce jar of Sauerkraut
One Savoy Cabbage
Two pounds beef (optional)
Two pounds pork (optional)
½ pound smoked bacon
One pound Kielbasa
One onion
wild mushrooms
One SMALL can of Tomato paste or sauce
3 to 5 Bay Leaves
salt, pepper, oil, sugar, allspice


First, get a jar of Polonaise Sauerkraut and a pound of kielbasa. Don’t use watered down sauerkraut that comes in a plastic sack with lots of water and vinegar. The final product is only as good as the best ingredients you can get. Then, get the best beef and pork with a minimum of fat. Cut off all that you can before cooking. Get a half pound of thick sliced bacon. If you cannot find a Savoy cabbage a regular cabbage works just fine. Start by getting a large pot of water boiling. Add the sauerkraut. Let it bubble away. Cut up the beef and pork into little fork size squares and brown. Generally this takes two frying pans (one each for beef and one each for pork). Season with secret herbs and spices. Grate the cabbage. Throw it into the boiling pot. Chop up the onion and in it goes too. When the beef and pork is browned. Pour both in the pot. Drippings and all. Cut the kielbasa into short pieces and sear in one of the frying pans. The searing keeps kielbasa from mushing up when it spends a lot of time in hot water.  When seared, into the pot it goes. Cut all the bacon, except one slice, into half inch long pieces and fry. Drain off the extra fat as necessary. When the bacon is done eat the single strip and throw the pieces in the pot. It’s ok to cook the sausage in the same frying pan with the bacon. Little chunks, any size. Add a little (teaspoon full) of salt, a half teaspoon of pepper (go light on this), one eighth cup sugar, and the bay leaves to the pot. And here’s the final touch. Dump in a SMALL can of tomato paste or tomato sauce. Stir. Add water as necessary. Cook at low heat. They call this simmer. The longer it simmers, the better it gets. Leftovers can be frozen and thawed. Or you can just store in the refrigerator and reheat through the week.


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