Recipe: Polish Hunter's Stew {Bigos}
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 8:57PM
Michelle in Main Dishes, Recipes

Polish Hunter's Stew

Adapted from Simple Recipes

Yield: 10-12 servings


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)


20 prunes, sliced in half (optional)

2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)

1 15 oz can tomato sauce (optional)


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.


Article originally appeared on AJ in the Kitchen (
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