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Poland's National Dish


bigos food from poland hunter's stew


Bigos is Poland's (and probably Ukraine's) national dish. Bigos was in times past eaten only by the Polish aristocracy as they were the only Poles who had access to game and could afford to include so much meat in a dish. Traditionally it would have included more game such as wild boar, pheasant, or venison, but nowadays is most often made with pork. If you have access to wild boar this makes a great substitute for the pork. Oddly enough, Bigos is one of those handy recipes which gets better the more it's reheated. So make up a huge pot and eat it for a whole week! Alternatively as it freezes well, divide it into small meal sized portions and put them in your freezer.

"Bigos is no ordinary dish,
For it is aptly framed to meet your wish.
Founded upon good cabbage, sliced and sour,
Which, as men say, by its own zest and power
Melts in one's mouth, it settles in a pot
And its dewy bosom folds a lot
Of the best portions of selected meats;
Scullions parboil it then, until heat
Draws from its substance all the living juices,
And from the pot's edge, boiling fluid sluices
And all the air is fragrant with its scent."

Adam Mickiewicz - Pan Tadeusz (1834)


Here is a recipe for one rather tasty variation of Polish Bigos (Hunter's Stew):

1/2 pound of bacon
1 pound lean pork or wild boar meat
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups cooked dried Borowik wild mushrooms (Boletus)
2 apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 or 3 prunes, cut up into pieces
2 root vegetables (swede, turnip, or carrot), cut into chunks
1 pound smoked sausages (Kielbasa), cut into small chunks
1 can of plum tomatoes
1/2 pound of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage)
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of stock (vegetable or meat)
A few Allspice Berries
Salt and pepper

1). Chop the bacon into ¼ inch pieces, cook until crisp, remove from the fat, and set aside.

2). Cut the pork or wild boar meat into small cubes, add to the fat in the pan, and brown the meat lightly.

3). Mix in the onion and cook it until it is tender. Cover the meat with hot water and simmer, covered, until it is well done.

4). Add the garlic, apples, prunes, Borowik mushrooms, vegetables, and tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes.

5). Combine the sauerkraut with the meat along with sausages and the reserved bacon. Add the red wine and stock. Mix these ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, until the sauerkraut is tender and the bigos is of the consistency you prefer. Serve with crusty white bread or if you prefer traditional Polish bread.


If you look closely at the photograph of a plate of Bigos above, you'll see that it includes potatoes, a larger than usual portion of tomatoes, and even a baby sweetcorn or two. Recipes for bigos vary enormously from family to family and region to region. This particular recipe comes from the Lubuskie region in the far west of Poland. We urge you to try the dish yourself. And feel free to experiment with the ingredients. We are sure that you won't be disappointed!


More Polish recipes.




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