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I’m Hungry, Let’s Make Bigos Posted by on Jan 31, 2009 in Culture

I’m cold and I’m hungry and that’s always a very bad combination. And I’m not in the mood to write about grammar today.
So, let’s talk about food instead.
I found half a cabbage in the fridge (leftover from making okonomiyaki the other night) and I’ve been thinking what to do with it. I hardly ever make bigos, because my guy doesn’t like it. But he surprised me today by saying “you could make that cabbage thing, you know, the one you like and I can’t stand.” And I know he’s just trying to be nice to compensate for the fact that he left a plastic bag full of souvenirs on the floor in our hotel room in Antigua, but hey, what so I care? He told me to make bigos and that’s all that counts. I’m off to the kitchen…

Now, there isn’t one proper bigos recipe, instead there are as many as there are families in Poland. It’s one of those dishes that everybody knows and everybody has an opinion about. So, with that in mind, I’m going to share with you MY bigos recipe. No, it hasn’t been passed down for generations (my mom couldn’t make nice bigos if her life depended on it and hence avoided it like a plague), it’s entirely mine, but it’s been tested and approved by fellow Poles the world over.

So, here we go:

  • ½ kg or less (about 1 lbs) white cabbage (świeża kapusta), thinly chopped
  • ½ kg or less (about 1 lbs) sauerkraut (kiszona kapusta)
  • a couple of sausages (around ¼ kg or ½ lbs), can be polska kiełbasa, can be something else, I use chorizo and nobody can tell the difference, chopped into pieces
  • bacon, cut up into pieces, I use quite a bit, because it’s yummy (bekon, boczek or skwarki)
  • pork (hmmm… I’m estimating – around ¼ kg should be fine) chopped into pieces (wieprzowina)
  • proper bigos recipes call for veal, but I don’t use veal so I simply ignore it and add more bacon, or sausages. But if you like veal, then less then ¼ kg should be fine. (cielęcina)
  • a bunch of dried mushrooms (I use a handful, and if European mushrooms are hard to come by, I’ve been know to use dried shiitake) (grzyby suszone)
  • chopped onion (cebula)
  • tomato paste (koncentrat pomidorowy)
  • salt (sól)
  • pepper (pieprz)
  • bay leaf (liść laurowy)
  • a couple of whole grains of allspice (ziele angielskie)
  • dried juniper berries if you like (jagody jałowca)

Ok, let’s get started:
Throw all that sauerkraut into a BIG pot, pour some boiling water over it and simmer for about 1 hour.
I can’t be bothered to cook fresh cabbage separately, because that means more washing up later on, so I just dump fresh cabbage (thinly chopped) into the simmering sauerkraut and add dried mushrooms. You may have to pour some more boiling water if the mixture is too thick.
In a separate skillet cook bacon, onion, pork, sausages and then add into the cabbage pot. Add bay leaf, allspice grains, a few dried juniper berries, whatever else you like.
Cook for about 40 minutes on low heat.
If the mixture is too runny, you can thicken it with a bit of flour. I’ve never done it, because my bigos is always nice and thick.
Add some tomato paste and red wine if you like.
Simmer for a bit longer.
Taste it and see if it needs more salt, pepper, whatnot.
And voila. Ready!
Serve with nice crusty bread.

Generally, the longer you cook it, the better it is. Just be sure you don’t burn it.
The more kinds of meat in it, the yummier it is.

Smacznego! (Bon appetit!)

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  1. Barb Lomnicki:

    Sounds delicious. I’m a real bigos fan. My mom usually just uses kiszona kapuste so I’m curious to try it z swieza kapuste. Still haven’t figured out how to invoke polskie literki in the comments section.


  2. michael:

    Hi Barb, you can use polish accents by changing your keyboard from English to Polish.

    Bigos is nice, I am tempted to try it now that I have a recommended recipie! Good for cold weather I think.

  3. michael:

    How many days can you eat this for before you could get food poisoning?

  4. Anna:

    Hi B!
    I found that bigos made only with kiszona can be too harsh for people with sensitive stomachs. So I make it half and half with fresh cabbage and it’s much milder.

    it never lasts that long, trust me. The amount in the recipe is enough for 2 meals for 2 people.

  5. Marilyn:

    I don’t read your blog very often…got it from the
    blog of David P. “Poland–Our Future”.
    Am very anxious to try making the bigos.
    Sounds delicious…I had forgotten about it, but I do remember eating it many times when I visited Poland…and liking it. I guess I didn’t realize how easy it is to make. Thank you.

  6. michael:

    Widziałem comedian joke the other day about Polish food!
    fasolka po bretonsku
    Ryba Po Grecku

  7. michael:

    Wow, that bigos recipe was really nice. I had bigos before in restaurants but it tasted nothing like this.

    Have you any more Polish recipies that you could reccommend?

  8. William:

    Hey! Thanks for the recipe, will make a video on YouTube very soon with this. Great stuff, keep posting!

  9. boczniaki:

    Super artykuł. Warto kupywać także grzyby i nie tylko
    bo w naszej ofercie grzyb kania znajdziecie także suszone grzyby i boczniaki czy też reishi!