Go Back
Baby Boomer recipes | Polish Hunter's Stew - Bigos

Polish Hunter's Stew - Bigos

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski
Bigos is considered to be the National Dish of Poland. It's a hunter's stew with a conglomeration of cabbage, sauerkraut, mushrooms, and meats and is delicious.
Course stew
Cuisine Polish


  • 1 whole cabbage chopped
  • 3 onions chopped
  • 3-6 slices of marbled bacon
  • About 2 lbs of fermented sauerkraut German is great
  • 1 oz. Dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 ½ lb mixed fresh mushrooms or brown crimini, porcini, morels, etc. If they are small leave whole or cut in half if larger
  • ½ lb. pork shoulder cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ lb. stew beef cubed
  • 1-2 Fresh sausages Kielbasa, Andouille, or Bratwurst taken out its casing and crumbled
  • ½ of a 2 foot smoked Kielbasa sausage
  • Cold cut meat chopped optional
  • 1 bottle of light or amber beer
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. Juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 2 natural beef bouillon cubes use cubes instead of liquid and opt for low or no salt
  • 1 tsp allspice optional
  • 20 pitted and halved prunes
  • 8 oz. of dry red wine
  • ½ baked bread rounds optional- baked – 1 per person


  • If you’re using dried mushrooms, pour hot water over them and let them soak for 20-40 minutes until they plump up. Set aside.
  • With a mortar and pestle, gently grind the juniper berries and peppercorns so they are slightly cracked.
  • In a large heavy pot, fry up about 3 slices of bacon for a few minutes
  • Remove the bacon and slightly brown all your fresh meats in batches. Don’t cook them all the way through as the cooking process is long. Just brown them a bit on all sides and remove to set aside in a large bowl. You can chop up the bacon and set it aside with the meat.
  • Add the chopped cabbage and onion to the pot and sauté until the cabbage is soft and the onions are translucent. Remove the cabbage and onions from the pot.
  • Add 3 more strips of bacon to the heavy pot and fry for a couple minutes. Remove the bacon strips and leave the fat in the pot. Add the fresh and dried mushrooms and sauté them on high heat to sear and then a bit lower until they release their water. Cook until the water is somewhat reduced.
  • Add back the browned meats, cabbage, and onions, spices, bouillon, smoked meats, and cold cuts. (If you are using them) Empty the bottle of beer into the mixture. Gently stir all the ingredients and simmer on the stove using very low heat for about 3 hours. You won’t have to add any water because the cabbage, beer, mushrooms, etc., will be enough., However, keep an eye on the pot to prevent any burning.
  • Let the Bigos set until it’s cool and then refrigerate it overnight.
  • The next day, take it out and let it simmer on very low heat for another 3 more hours.
  • During the last 30 minutes of simmering add the prunes and glass of wine.
  • Ultimately, you want the Bigos to have an amber appearance and not be soupy. It’s known as a dry stew.
  • I made bowls out of small round bread loaves. I picked up ½ baked bread at Sprouts (they are available at other stores as well and used a sharp knife to cut a bowl into them. I filled the “bread bowls” up with Bigos and set them on individual plates. I used the remaining bread from cutting out the bowls to make croutons. (Day old, drizzled with olive oil, herbs, and baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees)


Some people like to stick a ham hock in the middle of the Bigos mixture and let it cook until the meat starts to fall off. You would then fish out the ham hock and let it cool. Cut off the meat and add it to the pot and discard the bone and fat. Other meats you can use in Bigos are veal, venison, bison, poultry, and vegetables.
Before serving your Bigos remove the bay leaf and any bones in the meat if you cook with bone on.
You can also add a little tomato paste if desired.
As I mentioned, the longer your Bigos cooks, the better.