Bigos, a traditional Polish hunter’s stew, is a true delight and a perfectly warming dish for the winter holidays. Plus, it can be prepared ahead (and even tastes better after a while), meaning it saving you some precious Christmas time.
Krzysztof Turowski – the author of the recipe, our ambassador, and a Polish hunter, says this recipe is not only the best he’s ever had but also gets a lot of praise from friends and family.
So, without further ado, let’s get cooking!
Dice the plums in half and pour over the whiskey or brandy, stir, and set aside.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and leave them to soak in wine.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water, add the Worcestershire sauce, and bring to a boil.
Slice the bacon and game meat into 1-inch pieces. Heat a frying pan and melt some lard in it. Add the bacon to the pan, cook for a little, add the venison, and fry until nicely browned. You might need to cook the meat in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. If that’s the case, always make sure there is some bacon and game meat in your pan at every batch.
Transfer the browned meat to a pot with the boiling water, but leave the fat in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low and cook the meat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the water evaporates, add some more.
While the meat is stewing, dice the onion and strain the sauerkraut. Krzysztof doesn’t recommend rinsing it unless it’s very sour.
Slice the cabbage into thin strips, and dice the tomatoes.
After some 30 minutes have passed, heat the pan with the leftover fat. Add some olive oil, followed by diced onion, bay leaves, allspice, juniper and caraway seeds. Fry on low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.
Add the diced tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Afterward, increase the heat, add the sauerkraut, and cook everything together for about 3 minutes.
Add ½ glass of water and bring to a boil.
At this time, add the white cabbage to the pot with meat, stir everything, and cook for about 5 minutes until the cabbage starts to soften and reduce its volume.
After 5 minutes, add the contents of the pan to the pot. Then, add your ribs (cut into strips), soaked mushrooms, plums, and salt. Then, cover and bring to a boil.
After a few minutes, add the remaining ingredients – sugar, jam, chopped or grated apple. Cover and simmer for two hours, stirring frequently. It’s important that the stew does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Towards the end of cooking, slice the sausage and fry it in a spoonful of lard.
Add it to the pot when the stew is nearly done so that the sausage doesn’t fall apart.
Finally, season with more salt, if needed, and pepper.
Bigos – the hunter’s stew – is best served after cooling and reheating one or two days after preparation.
You can also freeze it in a vacuum bag. Simply thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat.
Bon appetit and happy hunting!
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