Hunter’s Stew (Bigos) is one of THE most popular Polish dishes.
I certainly grew up eating Bigos and learned how to make it at a very early age.
There are many ways you can make Polish Hunter’s Stew.
You can make it sour, very sour, or sweet. You can add mushrooms, apples, oranges, or prunes. You can add bacon or choose not to. You can make it with tomato sauce or keep it plain. There are as many versions of Bigos as there are Polish cooks!… 🙂
Hunter’s Stew (Bigos) is a very forgiving dish that likes a VERY slow cooking and it’s only up to you what you will put in it.
Bigos was THE VERY FIRST dish I cooked for my American husband.
I invited him over for dinner and asked if he had any meal preference. He asked for something Polish. In thinking about all the Polish dishes I could make, Bigos stood out the most. It was a very new and different dish for my then boyfriend, but he was brave enough to try it and… LOVED IT! He said he never believed the saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach until… he tried my Bigos! 🙂
Hunter’s Stew (Bigos) is totally Paleo friendly!
If you choose not to add any sugar, that is! A good quality kielbasa, without unnecessary additives, helps too! I buy my Polish kielbasa at a European Deli.
Hunter’s Stew is also naturally gluten-free, which is an indulgence for me! 🙂
Looking at the picture above, it may seem like there are a lot of steps to cooking this awesome Hunter’s Stew. In reality, it’s just adding one ingredient at a time and let it cook on low, allowing the bitterness from the sauerkraut to escape.
NEVER cover Bigos during cooking!
One step I did not picture above – I like to sauté the pork before adding to the pot of Bigos as it adds a depth of flavor.
As I mentioned above, there are many ways to make Hunter’s Stew (Bigos). This recipe is a very basic recipe. I don’t like my Bigos sour, therefore I choose to make it with sauerkraut AND fresh cabbage. I also add an apple for extra sweetness.
Sometimes, I don’t feel like babysitting Bigos for a long time.
Instead of cooking the meat first and making broth, I sauté bacon and onion in a Dutch oven, much like Braised Cabbage with Bacon.
Then, I add sauerkraut, carrots, some water and raw pork chops.
I cover that with chopped fresh cabbage and let it simmer for at least an hour.
I finish it off with tomato sauce or tomato paste, salt and pepper and that is it. Sometimes, I add kielbasa, sliced or whole links, straight in the Hunter’s Stew.
When I have time, I make Potato Dumplings to serve with my Hunter’s Stew:
In a way, Polish Hunter’s Stew (Bigos) is like American Chili! Everybody makes it differently. And, YES you CAN put some Bigos on a hot dog! 🙂 YUM!
Are you brave enough to try it? I dare you! 🙂
As Always, Eat Well, Spend Wisely!
- 2 lbs pork but or pork shank
- 1 large cabbage, shredded
- 4 (14.5oz) cans sauerkraut
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped small
- 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
- 2 lbs kielbasa, sliced
- 2-3 bay leaves x 2
- 5 allspice corns x 2
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place pork in large pot and cover with cold water. Add bay leaves and allspice, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook on medium heat for about 1 hour or until meat is tender. Remove pork unto a plate and let it cool off.
- Strain the cooked pork broth onto another large pot, add sauerkraut, bay leaves and allspice. Cook UNCOVERED on medium heat for 30 minutes allowing the bitterness from the sauerkraut to cook away.
- Add onion, garlic and apple. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add carrots and then shredded cabbage and cook uncovered, on low, for another 30 -40 minutes, or until cabbage is soft.
- In the meantime, remove fat from the cooked pork and shred or cut into small pieces. Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and sauté it until slightly browned. Transfer to the large pot of Bigos.
- Add tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot by itself, with a side of rye bread OR smashed potatoes.
- Do not cook Bigos in aluminum pot!
- Although Bigos likes slow cooking, do not cook it in a Crock Pot as it needs to be cooked UNCOVERED!
- If you are not on the Paleo diet, you may add some sugar, agave OR honey if you find it too sour.