Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bigos (Authentic Polish Hunter's Stew) #SundaySupper

First, I want to apologize for my absence from the world wide web.  It was a crazy two weeks at work, and I kind of wonder how I survived it.  Normally, when I'm stressed I like to cook-- but this time I just needed to curl up, hug my family and/or puppy, and sleep.....   Thankfully, I think I'm getting back to normal which means that I can put my free-time focus back to the kitchen. 

This weekend was the first time in many days that I knew my work phone wasn't going to ring.  To celebrate, I decided to whip up one of my all time favorites!  What made it even better was that it fit in perfectly with the Sunday Supper theme of "Dishes that Keep you Warm".

Bigos, or Hunter's Stew, is a traditional Polish stew made with meat, lots of cabbage, mushrooms, and lots of yummy spices and flavorings.  Between shopping and cooking, it takes a half a day to do it right, but it's totally worth it.  The directions below are for a single batch, but I ALWAYS double it.  It freezes so well, and it's one of those meals that tastes even better the second and third day.  You can't make too much of this stuff.  Just look at how warm and comforting it looks--- don't you want to dive right in to those hearty chunks of tender meat and golden potatoes?

  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1.5 lbs of Polish sausage (smoked kielbasa works great), sliced
  • 1 lb of beet stew meat
  • flour for dredging
  • oil for frying
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (button or a mix of button and portabella)
  • 1 large head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 pound of sauerkraut, drained, rinsed in water two times, and liquid pressed out
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • dash of Tabasco
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • dash or two of *Maggi (or other Swiss style) seasoning  (*see Note below)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 5 cups beef broth


In a very large, oven-safe stock pot (or dutch oven), cook the bacon until it turns a light brown.  Do not let it turn crispy.  Remove the bacon and place into a large bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.  When cooled, cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, add the sliced Polish sausage to the stock pot and cook until it turns brown. Remove the sausage and place in the bowl with the cut bacon, also leaving the rendered oil in the pot.

Dredge the beef stew meat in flour and fry in the stock pot for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable oil, if needed.  Remove the beef and place in bowl with the rest of the meat.  Set aside the bowl of cooked meat.

In the same stock pot, add the garlic, onion, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, and sauerkraut.  Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and start to release their moisture.  Add the bay leaf, basil, marjoram, paprika and caraway seeds and cook for an additional minute.  Add the rest of the ingredients, excluding the meat, and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. 

Add the meat back in to the pot and stir.  Cover tightly and place in an oven on 350 degrees for approximately 3 hours.  Serve over a serving of mashed potatoes. (I like to use a Yukon Gold or another similar golden potato for this dish)

*Note on Maggi-  I've received some questions about Maggi.  This is a seasoning that I'm sure you'll be able to find at your local grocery store, but you may need to look around a bit.  Sometimes it's found near the condiments like liquid smoke.  Other times, it's near the ethnic foods/sauces like soy sauce.  I've even seen it by the gravy and broth.  It may only be a few dashes, but it really makes the taste come together.  Try not to skip it. I'm a huge Maggi fan.

If you like this, you're surely love the rest of what we're featuring this week!  We have over 50 contributors bringing you their best warm you up dishes. We have everything from stews, soups, main entrees and even some hot drinks and desserts.

Just look at the list below that is coming to the #SundaySupper table this week!

Main Entrees:




Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. In the evening we will meet at 6pm Central Time for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.
All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.
We’d also love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.



  1. I really like polish sausage. These wonderful ingredients make for a rich and flavourful stew! Happy Sunday Supper!

  2. You got me with the first 3 ingredients. Then down on the list is sauerkraut and that sealed the deal. I must make this sometime over the winter.

  3. Polish sausage is so versatile in any dish. I particularly love it in your stew.

  4. Interesting way to use sauerkraut. I love stews but have never tried anything like this one. Nice recipe!

  5. I'm normally not crazy about cooked cabbage, but this looks so good and welcoming that I think I'd get over my dislike for it! Thanks for joining us this week!

  6. Oh wow this dish looks heavenly. My husband's grandparents were from Poland and he tells me his grandmother use to make dishes like this all the time when he saw them. Makes me want to have some right now. This would be a fun dish to make for my hubby's family as a reminder of their grandparents who passed away many years ago.

    1. This is absolutely a staple of polish cooking. Some folks will not put it over potato and others will just boil potato and have it on the side or just smash them with their fork. Either way, this will definitely be authentic for them.

  7. This looks and sounds amazing. I love any dish w kielbasa and cabbage. This brings it to a whole new level!

  8. Sunday Supper just isn't the same when you aren't around... so glad you are back my friend and this recipe looks fab! My husband loves kielbasa so this is perfect.

    1. Awww.. shucks! thanks! Let me know if you end up making this-- I'd love to hear how your family likes it!

  9. My boyfriend grew up eating polish sausage all of the time. Thank you so much for posting this dish, I know he will love it!!!

  10. OH MY!! This looks so good, look at all the wonderful ingredients. It must have such a depth in flavor. Delish!!

  11. Bigos looks like it has BIG flavor. OMG. I'm drooling. Don't tell anyone.

  12. Looks so good. I'm really loving this week's sundaysupper meals. Especially enjoying this one as I can get enough sauerkraut in my meal plans.

  13. This sounds great! Thanks for sharing. I don't think I have ever added sauerkraut to a dish. Time to try something new.

  14. Glad to see you're back! This dish looks so good and extremely comforting. Yum!

  15. Love this comforting stew and with all those lovely flavors it sounds absolutely delicious :)Hearty and healthy!!

  16. I've been in the exact same boat as you - super busy in the last little while without time or energy to cook/blog. Welcome back! This stew looks sooooo good, especially nestled in that delicious bowlful of mashed potatoes. This is comfort in a bowl!

  17. Oh, it looks and sounds so good! Yum:)

  18. We are in the same boat, missing for a while:D, welcome back Melanie! Great Bigos and I like the way you served with mashed potato, yummy!

  19. GOSH this sounds so good! Bacon, sausage, sauerkraut?! Love the combination and I especially like the addition of the tangy sauerkraut. Bookmarked!

    1. when you make it, come back and let me know how it went!

  20. great flavor combos! I have sauerkraut on hand, going to try this!

  21. So glad they let you out of your work dungeon. I missed you! I am all over this stew. I'm thinking I want to try to make it this weekend. Thanks for clarifying where I can get me some Maggi. I may have to serve the saurkraut on the side because Josh doesn't like saurkraut but I love it. I can eat a whole jar of it in one sitting. Welcome back Melanie!

    1. Hmmm.. not sure how the flavors would turn out without the kraut right in the pot. My stepdaughter is not a fan of the kraut, so we just make this when she doesn't come over. Wait until the boy leaves town! :-)

  22. Thanks for the education! I had not heard of this type of stew, but it certainly looks comforting.


  23. This looks SO good, and I love how it's cradled by the potatoes YUM!

  24. looks like amazing, i can't wait to give this recipe a shot!

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