Bigos is a Polish dish, very rich and hearty. It includes all sorts of meats, cabbage and sauerkraut both, tomatoes, onions, garlic, apples and is baked for several hours until they all blend into a delicious melange. It is something that is good to make for a crowd on a cold, wet, winter night. Serve with pierogies, beer and a good sour rye bread. Bigos is one of those dishes that in Poland each person has their own version, so feel free to make this recipe your own. Change the meats, change the other ingredients or the seasoning, just be sure to keep the cabbage and sauerkraut! Enjoy!
¼ cup bacon grease or shortening
1 pound beef chuck, cubed
1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
1 pound Polish sausage, sliced into one inch pieces
(the original recipe calls for all sorts of wild game, so use anything you possibly have...venison, rabbit, duck, goose, lamb, you name it)
1 quart sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
about half a head of cabbage, shredded
2 onions, peeled and sliced
4-6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 cans diced or crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. thyme or marjoram
a small handful of dried wild mushrooms, re-hydrated in one cup of boiling water, then chopped, saving the soaking water. (optional if you happen to have them)
Heat the bacon grease or shortening in a heavy dutch oven. Brown the beef about half at a time. As the beef browns, place in the bottom of a large roaster. When all the beef is browned, cover with the drained sauerkraut. Next brown the pork cubes, then place on top of the saurkraut. When the pork cubes are all browned, in the dutch oven, place the onions, garlic and apples. Quickly brown and then layer them over the pork cubes. Next add the shredded cabbage, tomatoes, allspice, paprika, thyme or marjoram and mushrooms with their soaking liquid. Stir around and around so that the cabbage wilts and all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan are scraped up. Pour this top of the onions, garlic and apples. Lastly, arrange the sliced Polish sausage on top of the cabbage and tomato mixture. Tightly seal the top of the pan either with a heavy lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about two hours. If you like, you can take the cover off the last 30 minutes or so to brown the top of the Bigos. Just be careful it doesn't boil dry, you may need to add a bit more water. This can also be done in a crockpot. This stew is one of those things that gets better the second and third time it is heated and eaten. Enjoy with some nice rye bread and dark beer.
There are many variations of this stew, the more kinds of meat you add, the better. You can also vary the vegetables and some add peeled raw potatoes to the center layer. Play with it and add what you like or have on hand.