Back in August, I wrote about my very long prodigal journey which included studying my ethnic Polish heritage. See here. In that post, I promised that I would share a couple of Polish recipes that I had mastered. I passed along the first one, Kluski i Kapusta (Noodles and Cabbage), in October. See here.
Now it’s time for my second recipe and it’s a grand one; Bigos aka “Hunter’s Stew.” Bigos is a staple of Polish kitchens during the Winter months and is considered Poland’s national dish. Every Polish cook and babcia has their own variation and here’s mine, which started with a recipe from “The New Polish Cuisine” by Chef Michael J. Baruch. I’ve tasted the Bigos of many Polish chefs but it doesn’t get any better than the recipe below. Get out your cutting board. This one takes some prep time, but it’s well worth it.
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 lb. stew beef (or substitute cubed pork)
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green cabbage, decored and sliced
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 lb. sliced mushrooms (Poles are very fussy about their mushrooms, but you can use common white mushrooms)
- 16 oz. canned sauerkraut, drained (rinsing is optional)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried marjoram
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 dash Tabasco sauce
- 2 dashes Maggi liquid seasoning (if not available use Knorr Liquid Seasoning)
- 5 cups (40 oz.) beef broth
- 16 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red cooking wine
- 6 oz. beer
- Using a very large pot (e.g., 16-quart Dutch Oven) on medium heat, cook 4 strips of bacon until crispy. Remove bacon leaving grease. Chop bacon and set aside. Add kielbasa to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. With slotted spoon remove kielbasa and set aside. Remove all grease except 2 tbsp. and set aside. Coat stew beef with flour. Add stew beef to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. Remove beef and set aside.
- Add 2 tbsp. of reserved bacon/kielbasa grease back to bottom of pot. Add garlic and onion. Stir and cook a few minutes until onion is slightly tender. Do not brown. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and sauerkraut. Stir vegetables often for around 4 minutes until only slightly tender. Do not brown. Add salt, black pepper, marjoram, basil, bay leaf, paprika, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and Maggi. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add remaining ingredients and reserved meats and stir until tomato paste is completely blended. Allow contents to come to a boil then cover and lower heat to low/warm. Simmer on low/warm with only a very slight boil for at least 6 hours. Many Polish cooks simmer their Bigos for a couple of days before serving.
Enjoy with sliced rye bread. Serves 8-10.
Smacznego! Ach! So good!