Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bigos - Polish Hunters Stew

This week’s cooking challenge is Polish food, which I know nothing about. Luckily, the internet exists, so I grabbed a recipe from Simply Recipes for a Polish stew called Bigos. Most recipes call for dried porcini mushrooms, but I ended up using some beech, hedgehog, crimini and shitake that were at my vegetable store. Also, if you can find refrigerated sauerkraut, you should use that instead of the canned stuff. If you do need to use sauerkraut from the can, rinse it to remove the vinegary taste.

Typically this recipe uses prunes as well, but I opted to leave those out. You should add them for the last 30 minutes of cooking if you want to use them. There’s also a version using tomato sauce instead of wine.

2 tbsp bacon fat
1 onion, chopped
1 head cabbage (the regular stuff, not red or savoy), chopped
1 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms
1 lb. smoked kielbasa
2 lb. fresh kielbasa
1 smoked ham hock
25 ounce jar of fresh sauerkraut
12 ounces red wine
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp dried marjoram

Wash the sauerkraut if need be, wash and chop the mushrooms, and cut the kielbasa into pieces.

In a very large pan (I started using a 5 qt dutch oven, but ended up moving everything to my stock pot), melt the bacon grease over medium heat then add the onion and fresh cabbage and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft. Salt the cabbage while it cooks. Remove the cabbage and onions and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and a little salt so they release their liquid. Once their water is nearly gone, add back in the cabbage and onion, along with all the keilbassa, the ham hock, the sauerkraut, the red wine, and the pepper/caraway/marjoram and some salt.

You’ll notice that there’s very little liquid compared to other stews – Bigos is called a dry stew, and the ingredients will release a lot of liquid as the stew cooks.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and cook on low for 2 hours.


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