Polish Hunter’s Stew (Bigos z Młodej Kapusty)

Bigos– just mention that word to a Polish grandmother and it may bring back warm childhood memories of the old country. It also may bring back frightening memories of being a young house wife and attempting to earn a small grunt of approval from a judgmental mother in law. Considered by many the national dish of Poland, this meat, cabbage, and sauerkraut stew is always part of any Polish event along with pierogis and Polish beer. Make a big batch as its flavor intensifies the longer its refrigerated or frozen.

Bigos z Młodej Kapusty – Polish Hunter’s Meat and Cabbage Stew

This is Polish comfort food at it's best. Freeze and refreeze as many times as you'd like. There's nothing like pulling this elaborate dish from the freezer to make guests feel special, thinking that you seemingly slaved all day to make this elaborate dish just for them. The keys to this dish are to use the best sauerkraut you can find and let it rest for at least a day before serving.
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Course: Brunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Eastern European, Poland
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Food processor, if shortcut desired
  • Large pot with cover

Ingredients

  • 4 thick Hickory smoked bacon, ½ slices
  • 1 large Onion, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 lb Smoked kielbasa, cut into ½ slices
  • 1 lb Pork shoulder, 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lb Beef chuck, 1-inch chunks
  • 8 oz Whole mushrooms, quartered lengthwise
  • 5 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium Carrot, diced
  • lb Sauerkraut, drained but not rinsed
  • 5 cups Cabbage, shredded (can use pre-cut cabbage here)
  • tsp Dried thyme
  • tsp Dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp Ground allspice
  • 1 tsp Caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp Sweet paprika
  • 1 cup Dry red wine
  • 15 oz Can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups Beef broth
  • 3 Bay leaf
  • 1 cup Prunes, chopped ?(or dried apricots)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Cook Base – In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, add bacon, garlic, carrots, and onions. Cover, and cook until soft. Stir and cook until onions start to brown. Add mushrooms and cook, covered, until mushrooms soften. Be careful not to let the bacon crisp.
    Turn heat to medium-high. Uncover pot and stir in beef and pork cubes. Cook until meats are lightly browned, a few minutes. Add kielbasa and lightly brown for 3-5 minutes.
    Cook Bigos – Place everything, other than the prunes, into the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, over lowest heat for 4 hours. If drying out, add a bit more broth or wine. When done, mix in prunes and season to taste with salt, pepper, and paprika.
    Refrigerate a day or-more in advance for flavors to meld. Warm and serve.

Notes

  • Leftover Bigos freezes well and can be quickly reheated to serve.

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