OK, it's a crowd pleaser when I make it, and the crowd consists of my family. It is not a crowd pleaser when your neighbor's father makes it, improperly stores it in jars, and you and your whole family (minus the one person who didn't eat any Bigos) spend the next three days in the bathroom. That was a couple of years ago, and it completely put us off Bigos. That's not what we had in mind for a New Year's cleanse.
I'm from Pennsylvania where it is a New Year tradition to make pork and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes. They say it is an Amish tradition and that it brings good luck. With that tradition in mind, we decided to try our hand at Bigos again this year. I am proud to say that everything turned out as planned.
Bigos - Stage one: frying the onion, garlic, mushrooms and sausage with the other meat boiling in the back.
Bigos - Stage two: all ingredients simmering in the pot. Be prepared to be on "pot duty" in the kitchen. Somebody's got to keep stirring the Bigos so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Bigos - Stage three: finished product after an entire day of cooking. The cabbage and meat are completely softened, and the color has darkened.
Slice of bread and ceramics from Boleslawiec, optional. Polish breakfast of champions 😉
Chris's Bigos Recipe - Polish Sauerkraut
1.5 kilos (3 pounds) sauerkraut
1 large carrot
a couple cloves of garlic
1/4 pound mushrooms white or wild
200 grams tomato paste (small jar)
1 tablespoon honey
meat of your choice but should include one smoked - I used smoked sausage and beef roast.
salt & pepper
cumin - whole not ground
allspice - 3 berries
laurel/bay leaf -2 or 3 leaves
juniper berry -2 or 3 crushed
sweet or semi sweet red wine - glass or two
How to make Bigos:
Rinse and chop the sauerkraut. Start cooking in pot or crockpot with some water. Grate or slice the carrot and add to the pot. Add water as needed. Some folks add some grated fresh cabbage as well.
Fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sausage. Boil or fry the remaining meat. I use 2 kinds of meat only, but some folks add smoked sausage, beef, pork or ham, and fried bacon. Add everything to the pot with the prunes, whole or chopped, spices and wine to taste, honey, and tomato paste. If you'd like a thicker stew, add some flour as a thickener. Cook forever till everything is soft and yummy.
Adjust ingredients and proportions to your family's taste.