In and Out of the Kitchen
Recipe Galleries

Pear and Apple Recipes

Pumpkin and Squash Recipes

Greenmarket Inspired Recipes

 

Most Popular Recipes

 

Tuesday
Dec032013

« Recipe: Polish Hunter's Stew {Bigos} »

Polish Hunter's Stew

Adapted from Simple Recipes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

1 oz dried porcini or other wild mushrooms

2 Tbsp bacon fat or vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 head green cabbage (not savoy or red), chopped

1 1/2 lbs mixed fresh mushrooms

2 lbs pork shoulder or country style spare ribs

1-2 lbs kielbasa or other smoked sausage

1 smoked ham hock

2 lbs fresh sauerkraut (normally available in refrigerated section of the grocery store)

1 - 16 oz pilsner or lager beer

1 Tbsp juniper berries (optional)

1 Tbsp black peppercorns 

 1 Tbsp caraway seeds

2 Tbsp dried marjoram (or 1/4 cup fresh marjoram, coarsely chopped)

Salt

20 prunes, sliced in half (optional)

2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)

1 15 oz can tomato sauce (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Pour hot tap water over the dried mushrooms and submerge them for 20-40 minutes, or until soft. Clean the fresh mushrooms and cut them into large pieces; leave the small ones whole.

Grind or crush the juniper berries and black peppercorns roughly.

Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks (if using). Cut the kielbasa into similar-sized chunks.

Drain and rinse the sauerkraut and set aside.

Heat the bacon fat or vegetable oil in a large dutch oven. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the pork over medium high heat on both sides. Set aside.

Put the onion into the pot and sauté for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until it starts to soften. Season with salt and pepper. As the vegetables release their moisture, use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. If you are making the tomato based version, add the tomato paste here. Set mixture aside.

Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook until they release their moisture. Season with salt and pepper. When the liquid is nearly gone, add the cabbage and onion mixture, sauerkraut, spices, tomato sauce (if using) and the beer to the pan. Stir mixture to combine.

Remove half of the vegetable mixture from the pan. Place the meat in a single layer over the vegetables in the pan and then top with the remaining vegetables. (Bigos is a dry stew, so the liquid will not submerge the meat and vegetables completely. As the stew cooks, more liquid will be released.)

Bring the pot to a simmer, cover and place in the oven to braise on low heat for approximately 3 -4 hours or until the ham is falling off the bone. Add the prunes at this point, and cook an additional 30 minutes, or until they are softened.

Bigos is typically served with rye bread and horseradish. I served my rendition with red potatoes, which also worked well. The stew improves with age, so your leftovers will be even better the next day.

 Notes: 

  •  The longer sauerkraut sits, the more sour it becomes. Rinsing helps to reduce the sourness, but you can also adjust the ratio of sauerkraut to fresh cabbage if necessary. (i.e. use a little less sauerkraut and a little more fresh cabbage)
  • I used a 6 3/4 quart Le Crueset French Oven when I made this dish -- but any heavy dutch oven with a lid will work. The original recipe suggested cooking the stew on the stove top, but putting it in the oven made more sense to me. Alternatively, cooking the stew in a slow cooker would also work well but will require substantially more time. (About 8-10 hours on low?)