As Polish dishes go, Bigos is about as traditional as you can get. You’ll be sure to find it in the food booths at any festival in the old square. Big flat cast iron pans of simmering meats, wine, mushrooms, and sauerkraut – the perfect thing to warm the heart and the belly, that’s Bigos Polish hunter’s stew!
This Bigos recipe is adapted from Nela’s Cookbook and From a Polish Country House Kitchen. I left it on the stove overnight on very low heat, I guess that’s the equivalent of putting it in a crock-pot. With the slow cooking, the flavors mellowed and blended. It was hearty and delicious!
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Like any stew, proportions need not be precise. If your package of Polish sausage is 13 ounces rather than a pound, don’t worry. If you happen to have some game meat in the freezer, this is the time to pull it out! Half a pound of diced venison or other game meat would be a very authentic addition. It is, after all, a hunter’s stew.
I remember hearing some controversy about the Bigos served at festivals because the government sanitation inspectors were saying that vendors had to prepare Bigos fresh every day, that they couldn’t serve leftover Bigos. Polish housewives, the real ones, were up in arms, saying Bigos wasn’t at its best until it had been reheated a few times.
Bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew)
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Polish
A hearty hunter’s stew, a Polish classic!
- 1/2 pound pork, diced
- 1/2 pound beef, diced
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium onions, sliced
- 1 pound slab bacon, diced
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 container mushrooms, sliced
- 2 pounds sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
- 4 apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes, quartered
- 2 pounds canned diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 12 peppercorns
- 1 pound Polish sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 pound ham, diced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- Season the pork and beef with salt and pepper
- Add olive oil to a large dutch oven, and saute the meat and onions in batches, cooking until the meat is browned and the onions begin to caramelize
- Brown the bacon
- Combine all the ingredients, and simmer at least two hours, or overnight
- Serve as is, over noodles, or with buckwheat.
An accountant by trade and a food blogger since 2009, Lois Britton fell in love with Polish cuisine during the years she lived in Poznań, Poland. As the creator of PolishHousewife.com, she loves connecting readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.
this looks delicious…i have some boar in the freezer…can’t wait for the weather to turn a bit cooler to give this a try!
Christy – boar would be perfect, very traditional!
I miss my Mom’s cooking and can’t read her recipes so very happy to have found Chlodnik and Bigos! Two of my favorites! Thank you so much for posting them!
My pleasure, Sue. I hope they’ll bring back lots of good memories for you!
Good recipe. I add carrots, cabbage, thyme, marjoram and allspice. I use tomato paste instead of tomatoes and add a cup of red wine.
Sounds great, Nancy!
I added lots of tomatoes from our garden that I processed, and lots of fresh basil and thyme from the garden… then the beef, lots of onions, green peppers, broccoli , mushrooms, salt, bay leaves, cayenne etc.
This looks great! How many servings is this? It seems like it would serve about 10-12, heartily, over noodles. Have you ever heard of it being served over potatoes? It’s what came to my mind before I read to serve it over noodles.
This recipe is not exactly polish bigos, for example there is no apples at all and few other ingredians, but…smacznego
LOL, I think there are as many variations as there are kitchens in Poland. Thanks, Magdalena.
I make bigos often, instead canned tomatoes I use tomato paste, also adding 2 tbs honey , smoked prunes for flavor (available only in Poland ) and Port vine. Venison for my version is a must.
Ike You said each recipe is different . Just to say not too many people add onions because bigos may spoil. I usually make a big pot of bigos and freeze some for later. The longer you cook bigos and rewarm the taste is better. Smacznego
Sounds good, Jolanta; thanks!
Absolutely delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Traditionally, the Poles would not use olive oil but pork fat. My Polish friends used a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut, and dried forest mushrooms instead of fresh ones (they have much more taste). Since few people had refrigerators those day s(I lived there in the early seventies), the bigos pot was kept outside on the balcony or even the windowsill (as it was usually a winter dish) for 2-3 days and reheated every day.
I have made this recipe. First time around simmered for 6 hours,cooled and refrigerated for a day. Then reheated and simmered another 3 hours. Let cool and refrigerated overnight. Heated and simmered the last time before serving. It was outstanding. One of the best dishes I ever prepared.
Well done, Joe! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
Can you Pressure Can Bigos? We have freezer space issues.
I don’t know enough about canning safety to respond, Jessica, but I’m sure a google search will give you more info.
Can I make this in a crock pot? How/when would I turn it on if I wanted it for the next day. I don’t mind it being late night because I’m awake most nights. My mama used to call me her “night owl”! Hahaha
This is one meal my mama never made. I wonder why. I’ll have to ask my Ciocia Janka. She’s the last living of my mama’s family at 87 years old, soon to be 88. My mama passed away in 2015 at the age of 91 and 10 months…I usually just say 92. She was my best friend. Her family was taken to Siberia in 1940. She lost one brother to typhus and another brother to questionable circumstances. My two aunts, mama and grandmother were in the hospital with Typhus. They were all recovering when one day when my mama crawled to the bathroom and Ciocia Janina was sleeping, my Ciocia Stasia saw the nurses give my grandmother an injection and were watching her. Within minutes my grandmother was dead.
I could say so much more but this isn’t the platform for it. Not sure why I added what I did. Anyway, I can’t remember if anyone in my family ever made Bigos. Thanks for letting me give some family history. I’ll call my Ciocia in a minute.
You said it because it is beautiful and your story. Of you don’t write, you have a writer’s heart, and this story needs to be told, perhaps a a pot of Bigos simmers beside you.