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Babcia’s Bigos

Moreishly Delicious Beef Recipe

8 - 10

Serves

40 mins

Prep Time

2 hrs 30 mins

Cook Time

Regina Wypych

Recipe author

Regina Wypych

Every Polish person knows that when it smells like a big fart in your home there’s Bigos cooking on the stove. I’m not selling this dish very well I know, but don’t be put off by this initial description.

This popular Polish dish is made with various kinds of chopped meat stewed with sauerkraut, cabbage and a handful of spices. It’s this combination of cooking sauerkraut and cabbage that provides that sulphurous aroma. Still doesn’t appeal, trust me, Bigos is moreishly delicious and worth trying. This is peasant cuisine at its best, preferably served with a big fat Polish dill pickle and chunks of sourdough bread or buttery cooked potatoes.

The type of meat used can be flexible – it is often a combination of half beef and half pork meat, so feel free to change this up. However, it’s important to use good quality smoked bacon and sausage as this is what imparts flavour to this dish. If you can’t find the traditional Kielbasa, swap it out for any sausage clearly marked as smoked, such as Rookwurst or Chorizo. There are as many ways to cook Bigos as there are Polish grandmothers (Babcia’s), this version is our family’s recipe. Smacznego – enjoy your meal.

Cooks Tips:

  • This recipe requires a large heavy-based stock pot or preserving pan.
  • Bigos can be eaten immediately, however, this dish gets better with time. Make it the day before and the flavours will develop even further.
  • Buy smoked bacon already sliced or in a piece.
  • This recipe makes a lot of Bigos, perfect for batch freezing.
  • If whole peppercorns throughout the dish doesn’t appeal, swap these out for a good grind of black pepper.

Every Polish person knows that when it smells like a big fart in your home there’s Bigos cooking on the stove. I’m not selling this dish very well I know, but don’t be put off by this initial description. This popular Polish dish is made with various kinds of chopped meat stewed with sauerkraut, cabbage and a handful of spices. It’s this combination of cooking sauerkraut and cabbage that provides that sulphurous aroma. Still doesn’t appeal, trust me, Bigos is moreishly delicious and worth trying. This is peasant cuisine at its best, preferably served with a big fat Polish dill pickle and chunks of sourdough bread or buttery cooked potatoes. The type of meat used can be flexible – it is often a combination of half beef and half pork meat, so feel free to change this up. However, it’s important to use good quality smoked bacon and sausage as this is what imparts flavour to this dish. If you can’t find the traditional Kielbasa, swap it out for any sausage clearly marked as smoked, such as Rookwurst or Chorizo. There are as many ways to cook Bigos as there are Polish grandmothers (Babcia’s), this version is our family’s recipe. Smacznego – enjoy your meal.

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Beef,

Casserole/Slow,

Dinner,

Lunch,

Special Occasion & Entertaining,

Ingredients

Bigos

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1/2 cup dry porcini

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250 smoky bacon

i

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500g Quality Mark cross-cut blade

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2-3 Kielbasa sausages

i

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4 tbsp olive oil

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3 onions

finely chopped

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4 garlic cloves

crushed

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1/2 tsp caraway seeds

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200g button mushrooms

sliced

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3 tbsp tomato puree

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1/2 cabbage

i

finely sliced

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2x 400g cans sauerkraut

i

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2-3 bay leaves

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1 tbsp peppercorns

i

whole black

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1/2 cup red wine

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400g can chopped tomatoes

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2 tbsp plain flour

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1-2 tbsp malt vinegar

optional

Method

For the Bigos

1

Put the dried Porcini mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour over ½ cup of boiling water. Set aside for 30 minutes.

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Start Timer

2

Cut the bacon and beef into 2cm pieces. Slice the sausages, ensuring all the pieces of meat are about the same size. There’s no need to be too fussy, this is a rustic dish.

3

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot or preserving pan and add the onions. Fry gently for about 10 minutes until just beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and continue frying for several more minutes until golden and softened but not browned.

4

Add the remaining oil along with the fresh sliced mushrooms, bacon, meat and sausages. It will begin to stew as the meat and mushroom juices run out, but keep frying so the water begins to evaporate off and the meat is just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

5

Stir through the tomato puree.

6

Add the shredded cabbage, sauerkraut, bay leaves, peppercorns, dried porcini, with their soaking liquid, wine, tomatoes and half cup of water.

7

Cook on low heat for around 2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes. The trick here is to add small amounts of water (½ cup at a time) as needed, so the Bigos doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and has enough juices to cook in. It should resemble a ‘cabbage and meat’ stew not soup.

8

Just before the Bigos is cooked, dry fry the flour in a small frying pan until lightly browned, shaking the pan or stirring so it browns evenly. Add slowly to the Bigos, stirring it through as you go.

9

The Bigos is cooked when the meat is tender and the dish has developed a rich golden, red-brown colour. Taste the bigos for its sourness, and if needed, add 1- 2 tablespoons brown vinegar to add more acidity to the dish.

10

Serve hot with cooked potatoes or chunks of bread and Ogórki (Polish dill pickles).

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