This hearty Polish stew, considered the national dish of Poland by many, is delicious and full of flavor with pork shoulder, kielbasa, sauerkraut, mushrooms, and more!
I’m always amazed at how many different dishes can be created from the same ingredients. Take sauerkraut and pork as an example; and what a great example it is. You can celebrate the New Year with a dish that is said to bring luck and prosperity with this Pork and Sauerkraut recipe. Choucroute Garnie is a braised dish that celebrates sauerkraut and pork in a very French way.
What Is Bigos?
And then there is today’s Polish Hunter’s Stew, called Bigos, which brings sauerkraut and pork together with mushrooms, cabbage, and kielbasa in a stew that’s as hearty as it is comforting.
What Ingredients Belong In Bigos?
This is one of those dishes that can create a lot of discussion, generally starting with a phrase like, “my mom didn’t use (fill in the blank) in her recipe.” Like all traditional recipes, the variations are as unique and numbered as the families that make and enjoy them. That said, my adaptation of Bigos may not include the same ingredients used by your mom or grandma, but I can assure you that it is homey, rich, and delicious.
I’ve also really tried here to keep the essentials of the recipe, those things that I have seen over and over in this dish, and leave out the ones that only pop up sometimes. Those sometimes-ingredients are things like tomato paste and dried prunes. They’re not in my recipe, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add them!
The components that are non-negotiable (which of course can also be debated) are chunks of meat, sauerkraut, and cabbage. Some would say that mushrooms and kielbasa are also non-negotiable. And I happily support this premise, and so I have included these as well.
How To Make My Version Of Hunter’s Stew
My recipe for Bigos includes pork shoulder, kielbasa, dried porcini mushrooms, button mushrooms, sauerkraut, and cabbage. I use beer as well, but this is optional and can be replaced with apple juice, water, or extra chicken broth. Everything cooks down in my Dutch oven and I serve the stew with thick slices of rye bread and coarse grain mustard. The bread is used to soak up every last drop of the broth, of course, and the mustard is a fabulous spread on every bite of kielbasa.
Bigos is one of those dishes that’s even better the second day, and better still on the third. So, if you have the time to make it ahead, do that. If not, enjoy the leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have them, for lunch the next day. It’s also traditional to serve bigos as a nice cabbagey side dish, so you’ll definitely use it all up.
Enjoy! – Christine :)Print
This hearty Polish stew, considered the national dish of Poland by many, is delicious and full of flavor with roast pork, kielbasa, sauerkraut, mushrooms, and more!
Serve with coarse grain mustard and rye bread.
- 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 and ½ lbs. button mushrooms, quartered
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage
- ½ tsp. peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 (12 oz.) bottle beer (pilsner or lager)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (25 oz.) jar sauerkraut, drained
- 1 and ½ lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced 1/2-inch then quartered
- Put the dried porcini into a fine mesh sieve and rinse. Put the porcini into a medium bowl and top with the boiling water. Push mushrooms down with a spoon to make sure they’re fully submerged. Allow to steep for 30 minutes.
- Pat the pork dry and season with the salt.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil.
- Add half the pork to the pan in a single layer and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining pork. You shouldn’t need to add more oil but can if needed.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the onions. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the button mushrooms and sauté for another 4 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, peppercorns, and caraway seeds, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the beer, stirring the loosen any bits from the bottom.
- Put a colander over the Dutch oven and drain the porcini mushroom steeping liquid into it. Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms and stir them in as well.
- Add the chicken broth, sauerkraut, kielbasa, and the browned pork, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
- Lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered for 2 hours stirring occasionally. You can alternatively put it into a 300F oven covered for the 2 hours, taking it out to stir every 30 minutes or so.
- Serve with the sliced rye bread and coarse mustard.