10. December 2013 · 11 comments · Categories: Pork · Tags: , ,

Since a friend asked me for a recipe for Polish traditional bigos (BEE-ghos) / hunter’s stew I thought it would be the perfect time to make some. It’s a very traditional Polish dish, and it’s prepared for the First Day of Christmas, for Easter, or for bigger family gatherings because, believe me, no matter how hard you try to make just a little, you will always end up with a giant pot of bigos. The cooking process should take 3 days if possible, but this time I decided to cook it for just 2 days. It doesn’t mean that it’s cooking for 72 hours non-stop. You cook it for minimum of 3 hours every day and then let all the ingredients combine while keeping it in the fridge.
The great thing about this dish is that you can always freeze it and have it whenever you feel like having a bowl filled with cabbage, meat and wild mushrooms. And it goes great with a shot of vodka, making a fantastic meal for a cold winter’s day.

Serving: at least 20 servings
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking : from 2 to 3 days (actual cooking hours from 6 to 10)
Calories for one cup serving – 250 calories


9 lb/4 kg of sauerkraut
1 small fresh white cabbage
5 oz/130 g of dried prunes
½ cup of brandy
6oz/170 g of tomato paste – 1 small can
5 oz/130 g dried wild mushrooms (porcinis, bolets)
6 cups of wild mushroom stock
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon of all spice berries
5 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of juniper berries
15oz/430 g ribs
1lb 6oz/ 650 g of pork neck
1lb/450g of beef stew meat
1 stick of Polish sausage
2 cups of red wine (pinot noir)
Salt and pepper for taste

First soak the dried prunes in brandy for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, cut all the meat into 1 inch dices and the sausage into ½ inch slices.
Rinse the dried mushrooms and put them into a large pot with 7 cups of water. Put the pot on medium heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat to low and cook until soft, whoch should be in about 20 minutes.
Rinse the sauerkraut and squeeze all the juices out. Chop it a little bit so it doesn’t have long strings and put it aside. If you are going to cook the bigos for 2 days, on the preparation day wash the fresh white cabbage and dice it as well.
If you are going to cook it for 3 days, then you need to add the fresh cabbage on the second day of cooking.
Now let’s start to assemble the first ingredients together.
In a large pot (at least 2 quarts) heat up a tablespoon of canola oil and add the onions. Fry them on medium heat for 2 minutes until they get soft. Add 3 bay leaves, and half a teaspoon of the all spice berries. Fry it for about 1 minute for the herbs to release some fragrance and then add the tomato paste. Fry it for 2 minutes on low heat and stir it occasionally. Add the dried prunes with the brandy and cook it down for about 3 minutes. Add all the meat and fry it for 15 minutes until it gets brown.
Keep stirring from time to time as to not burn the meat too much.
Add the sauerkraut and stir it, then add the 2 cups of red wine and stir it. Then add 4 cups of the mushroom stock together with all the mushrooms. Add the remaining all spice berries, bay leaves and juniper berries. Stir it well and cook on medium heat for 1h 30 minutes. Don’t cover it with a lid. Stir it occasionally and make sure to scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pot as it cooks.

kolaz bigos
If you decide to cook it for 3 days – cook it for another 1 hour and turn the heat down and let it cook down. Store in the fridge until the next day. On the second day of cooking warm up the dish and add the diced white fresh cabbage, sliced sausage and remaining 2 cups of mushroom stock. Cook it for 3 hours and stir occasionally. On the third day, there is nothing more to add but cook it on low heat for another 3 hours.
If you decide to make the dish in two days, then after the first 1h30 minutes of cooking add all the sauerkraut, meat and mushrooms, add the fresh, sliced white cabbage, remaining 2 cups of mushroom stock and sliced sausage. Mix it well and cook on low heat for another 1h 30 minutes.
Let it cool down and store in the fridge for the night. On the second day cook it for 3 more hours. You will see how the dish will change its color to be a dark brown, and that is exactly what you want.
Serve it as a main dish with bread or potatoes or as a side dish for pork loin or pork chops.






  1. I am salivating now!!!

  2. Is that really 9 POUNDS of sauerkraut? Any idea where I can find wild mushroom stock in NJ, or is that just the liquid left from reconstituting the dried mushrooms?

    • I know it seems like a lot of sauerkraut but it will cook down. You can use less but then I wouldn’t add so much meat. And yes the mushroom stock is the water you get from reconstituting the dried mushrooms.

      • And i should probably mention is that the 9 pounds is before you rinse and squeeze all the juices out. That’s already much less.

  3. One more question, sorry! What kind of ribs do you use? Beef, short ribs, pork, spare ribs?

    Thanks again!

    I will be sure to let you know how mine comes out

  4. I use pork ribs because the meat falls off the bone beautifully after cooking for so many hours. I would recommend any pork ribs you can get because it will fall off anyways. Good luck and let me know how it worked out!

  5. Pingback: Christmas Eve in Poland: A tale of twelve dishes - Magdalicious food blog

  6. Well it came out delicious! Next time I need to use a bigger pot! Glad it freezes wellThe only thing I might do differently is put the allspice and juniper berries in a bouquet garni. A few times I bit down on a berry and got a rather strong allspice or juniper mouthful. Can’t wait to share it with other friends of Polish heritage.

  7. Yeah, it’s a rather big portion and usually made when there are guests or family coming. It’s probably a good idea to put the spices in a garni or cheesecloth. My mom never did that and maybe that’s why I haven’t even thought about it but I might change that for any future bigos! I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

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