Polish flavours: Bigos

Every bigos starts with a huge pot.
It’s one of these dishes you never make a small amount.
The pot you can see it’s relatively small. At home we would have use a pot twice as big.
This bigos was made for a housewarming party.

So what is bigos?

Bigos is one of the most traditional Polish dishes. It’s also known as a Hunter’s Stew and it is known in Polish cuisine for hundreds of years.
There is not a single recipe for bigos. And it isn’t about exact proportions. It is not even about cabbage type – you can use either sauerkraut or fresh cabbage or both. It isn’t about meat type – you can throw anything you like sausages, fresh pork, beef, cured meat, basically anything you have in a fridge. Well there are vegetarian versions as well, but that’s different story.
It’s just important to use some fat or fatty meat and season it enough and don’t forget mushrooms, it’s hunter’s stew.

Even though it doesn’t look very glamorous it appears very often during Christmas and other occasions like birthdays, name days. It’s perfect meal for a big group of people, it’s easy to make and it’s getting better every time you reheat it. And it freezes well.

PS. Other meaning of bigos in Polish would be big mess.


Polish bigos*

  • 40-50 g dried mushrooms
  • 1 small white cabbage (around 1 kg), shredded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 juniper berries
  • salt
  • sweet paprika
  • 60 g lard
  • 900 g sauerkraut, chopped
  • peppercorns
  • 4-5 allspice berries
  • 1 glass of chicken broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100 g smoked bacon
  • mix of cured or baked meat (ham, sausages/kielbasa), cubed or sliced
  • mix of fresh pork and/or beef, cubed
  • 4 dried pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 glass of red wine
Boil the dried mushrooms in a glass of water. Leave it to cool.
Place the chopped white cabbage in a big pot. Add bay leaves, juniper berries, pinch of salt, smoked paprika and 2 glasses of water. Simmer the cabbage until soft.
In a separate pot melt a half of the lard and add the sauerkraut. Add peppercorns, allspice berries and a glass of the chicken broth. Mix well and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to low and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
Sauté the onion in the remaining lard for a short time. Add all the meat and brown it (you may need to do it in batches).
Combine all ingredients (white cabbage, sauerkraut, prunes, mushrooms) in the big pot. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium heat. If it is too watery remove some of the liquid. This is a stew not a soup.
Pour the red wine and lower heat to low and simmer covered for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
Season it to your liking.
The more you reheat bigos the better it gets.
Amount of the ingredients is approximate, it up to you if you want more meat go ahead, less meat, no problem. You don’t like it too sour, skip the sauerkraut

7 thoughts on “Polish flavours: Bigos

  1. I love your Polish recipes Magda and I love that you made something called a “Big Mess”. Best of luck in the Blog Awards, I hope you win 🙂


  2. I feel so homey… The recipe unequivocally forecasts the onset of the autumn. As you said, there is not one, nor even two bigos recipes that are the same, but mine is very, very close to yours – how improbable, yet so reassuring!


  3. Pingback: How Polish Christmas smells like? - Magda's Cauldron

  4. Hi, how long can I eat it after? I cooked it on Thursday evening, and now it is Monday and I want to have it for my lunch. It has been in the fridge the whole time. Can I risk it? I so badly want it, it was a good batch!


    • Hi Dana, your bigos is probably long gone, but I would say you can eat it on Monday. Best is to try if it smells or tastes funny, otherwise it’s one of the dishes that keep for long. Next time when you know you won’t eat it all just put a batch in a freezer.


  5. I scoured the internet in search of a recipe to use up the remains of our roast goose from Christmas dinner when I came upon your recipe. I had enough goose for about a third of your recipe. I’m so glad that I found your recipe!! It is delicious! I was generous with the smoked paprika to make up for a shortage of smoked pork products. I normally buy polish sausage at a local polish deli and their sausages are so delicious that I can’t bring myself to buy the inferior kielbasa at the local grocery store. Real polish sausages are leaner, less salty and less fatty. It’s refreshing to see a recipe that doesn’t give precise measurements. After all, this is a recipe so well suited to using up leftovers.


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