Bigos is numbered among Poland’s most popular and beloved dishes and is usually associated with meaty, satiating meal based on pickled cabbage. The history of bigos has a few hundreds of years, however, in its oldest versions, one won’t find the slightest trace of cabbage. In pre-partitioned Poland, the vegetable was usually replaced with spinach and instead of beef or veal different kinds of fish or popular back then hazel hen.
The XVIIth century bigos would be, however, hard to swallow for a today’s bigos fan. As the custom of the time was, the meal was extremely sour, seasoned with vinegar, lemons, limes, sorrel and gooseberry. In accordance with baroque culinary fashion, Poles valued very sharp, even acrid flavors, often inedible for other nations.
The Bigos we know today developed first in XVIIIth century and was dubbed ‘the rogue’s’ or ‘the hunter’s’ bigos depending on the region.
- 1.5kg pickled cabbage
- 0.5kg pork
- 0.5kg beef
- 0.5kg different kinds of sausages (regular sausages, chorizo etc)
- 12 dried ceps (or other kinds of mushrooms)
- 10 dried plums
- Pepper, allspice
- 2 Bay leaves
- 5 juniper berries
- 1 tee spoon cumin seeds
- 2 onions
- 1 tbsp honey
- 50ml brandy or whiskey
- 1 glas water
- Quickly rinse mushrooms in the cold water. Next, soak them in the 0.5 glass of cold water.
- Cut plums in half and soak in alcohol.
- Chop all the meat (except for sausages) into 1-2cm pieces. Fry it on the pan on each side.
- Put one glass of water into the big pot. Once started boiling put the meat into the pot and cook for 45 minutes. Add more water if needed.
- Rinse the cabbage in the cold water. Finely chop the onion.
- Fry the onion, bay leaves, juniper berries, honey and cumin seeds on the same pan where you fried the meat.
- Put the onions, mushrooms, plums with alcohol and cabbage into the pot with meat. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
- Cover the pot and keep bigos at a simmer for 2 hours. After an hour of cooking add chopped and fried sausages.
- The bigos is ready to eat. However, it tastes the better the more time you give him to get the flavor out of the plums and mushrooms. Traditionally, bigos is cooled and cooked again for about two hours on the next 2 day.