Bigos often translated into English as hunter’s stew, is a Polish dish of chopped meat of various kinds stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage.
The flexible and forgiving recipe for bigos allows a great number of variants, often simply using what ingredients are at hand. It is often claimed that there are as many recipes as there are cooks in Poland.
In the region of Greater Poland, bigos typically contains tomato paste and is seasoned with garlic and marjoram. Kuyavian bigos is often made from red cabbage as well as white. In Silesia, it is usually mixed with kopytka or kluski, that is, small plain boiled dumplings made from unleavened dough that contains flour and mashed potatoes.
In bigos myśliwski, or “hunter’s bigos“, at least part of the meat comes from game, such as wild boar, venison or hare. It is usually seasoned with juniper berries, which help neutralize off-flavours that may be found in the meat of wild animals.
Melt the butter in a large casserole. Add the onion and sauté over a medium heat until the onion is softened and translucent. Sprinkle over the juniper berries and caraway, then add the pork. Sprinkle over the brown sugar. Turn the heat up high for a couple of minutes, turning the meat so it browns well.
Drain the sauerkraut well and give it a rinse if you want to reduce the vinegar flavour. The easiest thing to do is squeeze it out with your hands. Add to the casserole with the white cabbage and chopped tomatoes, then pour over the stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water. When they have softened, drain, adding their soaking liquor to the casserole. Chop the mushrooms finely and add these to the casserole, along with the sausage and apple.
Simmer for a further hour and a half and serve or cover overnight and reheat the following day.
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A fellow travel blogger, Agness of Etramping, shares her 10 favourite dishes you can’t miss when visiting Poland. Check out her blog post here.
If you’ve never tried it please make sure to ask for it when you travel to Poland.
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