Recipe #6: Bigos
Ask a non-Polish person about the national dish of Poland, and they’re likely to rave about the delicious qualities of the pierogi. Ask a true Pole, and they’ll tell you that while the pierogi are quite tasty and popular with foreigners, the true national culinary treasure of the motherland is Bigos, also known as Hunter’s Stew.
There is no single recipe for this savory stew of cabbage and meat. Recipes vary from region to region, and from family to family. Some argue that the amount of meat should equal the amount of cabbage, and some prefer to use only sauerkraut. Nevertheless, the common thread is the meat. Because it is considered a real hunter’s stew, bigos is typically made with leftover cuts of meat and wild game.
And with the winter chill making its way in, there’s no better time to enjoy this hearty dish. It is said that it only gets yummier with each reheating – so to make the most of this meal – cook it one day in advance, and prepare to be wowed.
4 dried mushrooms
1/4 cup water 2 lb sauerkraut
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 – 20 oz can of tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 lb meat of different species, diced (pork, beef, poultry, and/or wild game)
1/4 lb bacon, diced
1/4 lb smoked ham, diced
1/4 lb kielbasa, diced
Steamed potatoes or rye bread for accompaniment
1. Soak mushrooms in 1/4 cup water for 2 hours. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. When cool, remove the mushrooms and slice into thin strips.
2. Rinse sauerkraut in water and rinse out any excess liquid. Add sauerkraut, mushroom and their cooking liquid, apples, tomatoes, peppercorns, and bay leaf into a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
3. Add the meat, bacon, ham, and sausage. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Serve with steamed potatoes or rye bread.