Bigos – Polish Hunter Stew – is a traditional Polish dish that originated in Medieval times. Sauerkraut, Kielbasa, Wild Mushrooms, Prunes and spices are braised in red wine for hours to achieve this amazing comfort food.
Today I’m going to share my recipe for Bigos – Polish Hunter Stew. Ever since I posted my Authentic Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese I have been getting requests from the readers to post a recipe for Bigos. Apparently a lot of people remembers their grandmothers making it and they really wanted to recreate the dish. Unfortunately I don’t really have the best photos of this dish (they were actually taken a while ago), but since the requests are coming, I just decided to post it and deliver the recipe. That’s the most important part anyways, right?
So in Poland Bigos is like Turkey in US. It’s the go to dish for ALL of the holidays, small or large, and even on Birthday and Name Day parties. Yes, there is such a thing as Name Day celebrations in Poland. Every calendar will tell you when your name day it is. Mine is on September 16th, which is just a few days after my birthday so I usually didn’t get to celebrate it. But the idea is pretty cool. You can have YOUR party twice a year. And both of these parties involve gifts. Isn’t that cool? And, as mentioned, Bigos would be served at all of them.
Bigos is also called ‘Polish Hunter Stew’ as its origins date back to Medieval times; when hunters would bring home game and it would be added to a stew which was cooked for hours. Sauerkraut was widely used then because of its high vitamin content and the fact that it could survive winter. If you think about it, it was a dish that was supposed to keep them warm and healthy. Sauerkraut with wild mushrooms, prunes and wine? Sounds super good to me. Then they would add whatever meat that was brought home. Nowadays, you can use any meat you want, or you can skip it and make it a vegan version. I like mine with Polish Kielbasa, but it is totaly fine to add cubed beef or pork.
For the holidays or other gatherings Bigos would be served as appetizer with a Crusty Bread which could be dunked into the sauce. I also like it served for dinner with mashed potatoes, or even as a side dish to other meats like Brown Sugar Pork Chops with Garlic & Herbs. Feel free to experiment and let me know how you like it.
Without further ado, here is the recipe:
Bigos - Polish Hunter Stew
- 6 cups Sauerkraut or 2 - 1 pounds jars
- 1 package porcini mushrooms about 20 grams
- 1/4 cabbage shredded
- 1 carrot medium, shredded
- 10 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms cut
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup prunes pitted, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 onion medium, yellow, chopped
- 2 cups Kielbasa cubed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon rosemary dried
- 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic granulated
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds granulated
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Salty & Black Pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Place dried mushrooms in a bowl, submerge them in water and let sit for an hour;
Rinse the sauerkraut and chop it. Place it in large pot and submerge with water, cook it for about an hour, adding water if needed so that the sauerkraut is fully covered. After fully cooked, let the water reduce by half;
In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a chopped onion and fry it for about 5 minutes until golden brown;
Remove the onions and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan, baby bella mushrooms, and season with salt & pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and cooked through;
Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan and your kielbasa. Cook until golden brown, or for about 5 minutes;
When sauerkraut is soft and the water has reduced by half, add chopped cabbage, and carrot; mix together and let cook for about 5 minutes;
Carefully remove dried mushrooms from the bowl and chop them. Be careful not to grab the dirt which inevitably fell down to the bottom of the bowl;
Into the pot with your sauerkraut, add cooked onions, mushrooms, kielbasa, red wine, tomato paste and all seasonings;
Let it cook for another half hour to an hour, mixing often until all the ingredients are well blended;
Season with salt and pepper, if needed;
It can be served immediately with bread or potatoes. Additionally, it can be reheated the next day and I suspect you'll be presently surprised at how well the nicely the dish aged!
This dish gets better the longer it cooks for and the longer it sits. It can actually taste the best on the third day, after its been reheated twice. But it can be eaten immediately. Enjoy.
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