Old Polish Bigos (Hunter’s Ragoût)
Bigos is not a meatless Christmas Eve dish, but it is often served on Christmas Day and St Stephen’s (Boxing) Day and is widely associated with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It consists of several kinds of meat and sauerkraut. Its preparation stretches over three days. Each day it is cooked about an hour.
- 300 g smoked bacon
- 200 g beef (e.g. neck, sirloin, shoulder, rib)
- 300 g pork shoulder
- 200 g veal shoulder or pork
- 1 kg sauerkraut
- 50 g dried Bolete mushrooms
- 1 litre water
- 1 bay leaf, 2 allspice (pimento) berries, 4 peppercorns
- 125 g pitted prunes (preferably Polish)
- 1 tart apple
- 1 egg for brushing on
- 1 teaspoon caraway or black caraway for sprinkling
Into large, thick-bottomed pot place bacon diced into approx. 1.5 cm nuggets (from which rind and gristle have been removed). Fry on low covered approx. 10-15 minutes until it simmers in rendered fat and browns, stirring from time to time.
Add meat cut into 2 cm dice (beef, pork neck and shoulder). Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper and fry on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until meat is browned and well-fried on all sides. Mix meat around during cooking several times. Finally, remove lid and fry several minutes longer as required. Increase heat and gradually add sauerkraut. (If it is extremely sour first rinse it in colander.) Cook uncovered. Add broken-up dried mushrooms, bay leaf, allspice and peppercorns. Add boiling water, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook 1 hour stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
Heat bigos, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer under cover for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool to room temperature and refrigerate once again.
Rinse prunes and dice. Peel apple, cut into quarters, remove and discard core portion, dice and add to bigos together with diced prunes. Simmer on low under cover about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. It can be kept in fridge for up to 2 weeks after bottling.
You will find an original recipe in Polish HERE.