Monday, 28 February 2011


Bigos is a traditional Polish hunter's stew. Recipes differ from region to region and (of course) even from family to family. Many years ago, I worked for the town council of a small town in South Africa. Part of my role was to promote a sense of community, and I put together events and projects to this end. One such was a recipe book using recipes supplied by the townspeople. This recipe was one such, provided by a Polish woman who lived in the town. She told me that in bygone days, a family would keep a pot of bigos going, sometimes for weeks on end, adding to it as needed.

If you have a crock pot/slow cooker, this recipe is ideal. Since I don't have one, I either use my pressure cooker (adjusting the times below) or a casserole dish in the oven.

Of course, if you have any Polish heritage of your own, you will probably have a different recipe. This is is just one option.

750g sauerkraut (I use the one with carrots in it, but there is much debate among Poles as to whether or not bigos should contain carrots)
1 onion, finely chopped
45ml flour
30ml butter
175ml white wine
500ml stock (not mutton/lamb - I use chicken or vegetable)
Paprika to taste
Any smoked meat, chopped into bite-sized chunks

  • Simmer the sauerkraut in stock for about an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Fry the onion in the butter until soft. 
  • Add the flour to the onion and stir over low heat for a further minute.
  • Add onion and meat to the sauerkraut and transfer to a casserole dish (or a pressure cooker).
  • Add wine and paprika. Mix well.
  • Cover and bake slowly (about 150C) for at least an hour. If you're using a pressure cooker, it will obviously take far less time. But, if you're using a slow cooker, you can safely leave it for several hours.
  • Serve with boiled potatoes and/or dark rye bread.

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