Hunter's stew has been a Polish favorite for centuries, and most purists believe it should cook about that long to taste right, Baruch notes in his book. "I say, 'No way.' I developed this recipe years ago and have demonstrated it for Elk and Moose lodges around the Midwest without a complaint yet. Get rid of your black caldron and make some bigos today!"
If you like stew on the sweeter side, Baruch suggests adding some pitted dried prunes, diced green apples, and a dash of sugar to the simmering pot.
Bigos (Hunter's Stew)
- 2 thick slices hickory smoked bacon, blanched and diced
- 1 pound fresh Polish sausage, blanched and sliced
- 1 pound beef or pork stew meat, cubed
- 1/4 cup flour
- Vegetable oil as needed
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 cups sliced domestic mushrooms
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 pound sauerkraut, drained and rinsed twice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- Dash of hot pepper sauce
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes of Swiss-style liquid seasoning
- Dash of mushroom powder (optional)
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 5 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large (6- to 8-quart) pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon until it renders its fat and turns light brown, not crisp. Using slotted spoon, carefully remove bacon to large (8- to 10-quart) earthenware casserole or other heavy oven-proof casserole.
Add sliced Polish sausage to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until sausage turns light brown. Using slotted spoon, remove sausage and place in casserole.
Working quickly, lightly dredge cubed meat into flour, then saute in hot bacon and sausage fat in pot 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. With slotted spoon, remove meat to casserole. You need 2 tablespoons fat remaining in pan; remove from heat to add oil as needed.
Return pot with bacon fat to heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, mushrooms, green cabbage and sauerkraut, and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Do not let vegetables brown.
Add bay leaf, basil, marjoram, paprika and crushed caraway seeds to pot and cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and lightly cook, stirring constantly, until liquid comes to boil.
Pour vegetables and stock over bacon, sausage and meat. Cover casserole tightly and cook in oven 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Makes about 8 servings.
The New Polish Cuisine by Michael Baruch and Gregory Bertolini