Friday 12 February 2010

"Bigos" recipe - 3 day sauerkraut stew

There's as many bigos recipes in Poland as there are households I imagine, and mine changes from year to year. But some things never change - you only eat bigos when it's cold and in a group of family or friends. It's perfect for sharing, as it takes ages to make and you may as well make a huge amount.

Ingredients (for 6 people)

2 jars of sauerkraut
2 onions
Aprox. 300 grams stewing beef
Aprox. 300 grams cubed pork belly
About 3 packets mixed dried wild mushrooms
About a handful of closed cup mushrooms
500 grams prunes
About 4 dried Polish sausages (I used "Mysliwska" - hunters' sausage)
2 Glasses red wine
1 stock cube (lamb works well)
Dried herbs (I used dried sage and rosemary - juniper berries work well too)
3 bay leaves
Olive oil
Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)

Serve with mashed potato or crusty bread

Now, my mum always uses sauerkraut that comes in soft plastic packets, which does not need much extra liquid - she doesn't use any stock at all in fact - but the stuff you get in all supermarkets, in jars, is quite dry and you need to keep adding water so that it stays moist and doesn't burn.

Day 1

Soaked the dried mushrooms for half an hour, according to packet instructions. Fried the pork belly in the olive oil for a couple of minutes, before adding the beef and chopped onion. After another couple of minutes, I added the drained sauerkraut and a glass of wine, seasoning with salt and peppercorns

You bring to the boil and then turn the heat down. Once they mushrooms have rehydrated, add them and the water they have been rehydrating in, to the pan. As long as they are bought mushrooms, of course, if you picked them yourself, you would need to rehydrate them for longer and change the water more than once. But if you picked them yourself, like most people in Poland do, then I'm sure you would know that already ;o)

I cooked this for at about 1 hour today. It was still be light in colour but the should be no liquid in the stew by the time you turn the heat off. You can let this cool and put it in the fridge overnight, but my pot is always to big so I just leave it, covered in the cold kitchen (we always turn our heat off at night).

Day 2

I put this on a low heat as soon as I got home. I covered the bigos with about a pint of lamb stock and let it simmer, while frying the Polish sausage and closed cup mushrooms separately.

I added them in one by one along with the prunes and cooked for a further hour or so

Day 3

Cooked the bigos for a final hour with a glass of wine. When this evaporated I kept adding a splash of water every now and again, when it was looking a bit dry. The final magic ingredient was maggi sauce

A proper bigos is dark brown in colour with a deep, intense flavour. However, if you'd like to try sauerkraut stew without the hassle, you can cook one in about half an hour. It tastes completely different to this stew, but definitely has it's own appeal. Check out my recipe here


  1. My mum (who isn't Polish, just an adventurous and sometimes experimental cook) used to make a much simpler bigos in a few hours. I've been inspired to try your version now!
    (Arrived here via your youtube recipes, which are great.)

  2. I have just noticed your comment now! i hope your bigos worked out and glad you like the youtube stuff. slowed down a bit recently, so thanks for the encouragment!