Bigos – The Wikipedia Definition
Bigos (Polish pronunciation: [ˈbiɡɔs]), known as a Hunter’s Stew, is a traditional meat stew typical of Polish, Lithuanian, and Belarusian cuisines, considered to be the Polish national dish.
There is no single recipe for a savoury stew of cabbage and meat, as recipes vary considerably from region to region and from family to family. Typical ingredients include 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 real 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.
Bigos – Danielle’s Definition.
A combination of sauerkraut and an entire farm. Brings of an aroma so intoxicating it makes you weak in the knees, makes your brow sweat a bit, bite your lip in anticipation, makes you feel . . . oh wait. . . this is a family site… Bigos is the most incredible dish I have ever discovered in polish cuisine. There’s no one way to make it but any way its done, the smell is just cruel to someone who just started Weight Watchers.
So why did I make this if it would be the one thing that would sabotage my diet? Pierogi. Saturday is National Pierogi Day people!! It MUST be celebrated! I usually stick to potato and cheese filled pierogi but then I had this crazy epiphany. What if I stuck this glorious stew into a pierogi? Clearly its genius. I have made sauerkraut pierogi and its just so/so. Bigos filled pierogi comes from the heavens.
As I stated before, there is not one way to make bigos. It’s meant to be a ‘left over’ stew. Utilize whatever you have on hand! I wanted this bigos to be absolutely perfect so I made sure to pick what I wanted in mine. This is what I used:
Bigos – Makes 1 large stockpot
- 1lb bacon
- 1/2 lb salted piggy tummy
- 1 lb beef stew meat
- 1 lb polish sausage, casing removed
- 1 lb smoked polish sausage, cut into small cubes
- 5 onions, chopped fine (i used a food processor, I cheat)
- 2 cups chopped prunes (or dates, figs, whatever you like)
- 1 bottle red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
- 3 bags sauerkraut, drained, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
- Rice Wine Vinegar (totally optional)
This is one of those easy things that once everything is in the pot, you can let it be..for many hours! To avoid having to utilize any other oils, I started with bacon first. Cut your bacon into small lardons and saute in the bottom of whatever pot you are using. Once bacon is cooked and fat is rendered, remove bacon, add pork belly. Keep removing meat once it’s seared on the outside, but not fully cooked inside. Keep using the juices/oils from the meat to cook the next batch. Once all meat is seared and set aside, add onion and saute until translucent. Add meat back into the pot and cover in red wine. Let this cook down until most of the wine is cooked out. Add sauerkraut, prunes, tomatoes, and water. Cover this and cook for roughly 5 hours. Sample and adjust seasonings. I added a touch of rice wine vinegar just because the flavor was a little flat. There was no need to add salt but I did end up using a touch of pepper and some ham base for some smokey flavor. I took a few photos during cooking, the unfortunate part is that bigos is by no means an attractive dish. It tastes unbelievably sexy, however, its more like “I love you for your personality, not your looks” sort of thing. So here’s some photos of the glorious, delicious, amazing, bigos. . .
Just like most stews, soups, sauces – bigos tastes way better the following day. It lets the flavors really meld and get really happy! By all means enjoy a trough full the day you make it, however, save some for the following day to enjoy too! Check back tomorrow when I stuff the infamous bigos into pierogis!