An exquisite, hunter’s stew

by Krzysztof Turowski

Again, I neglected part of my blog dedicated to cooking. So, I come back to the pots to fix it.
In conversations with foreigners, the question about our kitchen is asked sooner or later. How and what we eat, what we can boast about and what to show to visitors as a typical Polish traditional dish. Such stories usually start with our sausages and long-ripened meats. I’m also talking about deer, wild boar or hare pate. There is also a sour rye soup called “żur” on my list, and one of the main attractions is Steak tartare called “tatar” and, of course, hunter’s stew – “bigos”.

When I say bigos, I do not mean ordinary cabbage stew with meat, but a real, hunting, exquisite stew that is extremely good. We prepare this stew quite often at home. It is prepared for Christmas and appears just after them when I set off for hunting night shifts, while I am protecting fields from wild boars. Hunter’s stew is great in the summer and is ideal for autumn and winter cold. I take it with me in a dinner thermos so that it is warmed up even after a long night. Bigos can be frozen, and the vacuum is best suited for that. I drew inspiration from the “Kwestia Smaku” portal.

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We will need:
– 300 g of wild boar goulash meat
– 150 g of raw pork bacon
– 150 g smoked pork belly
– 150 g of deer goulash
– 300g smoked ribs (wild boar or pork)
– 500g sauerkraut (necessarily sauerkraut, not pickled)
– 800 – 1000g of white cabbage
– 50g of dried mushrooms
– 150g of smoked plums
– 200ml of red wine
– 50ml whiskey or brandy
– 2 onions
– spoon of butter
– 2 tomatoes scalded and peeled
– 3 tablespoons of lard
– 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
– 2 tablespoons plum jam
– 1 apple
– 2 loops of wild boar sausage or roe deer
– half a teaspoon of hot pepper
– half a teaspoon of ground pepper
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 2 bay leaves
– 5 kernels of allspice
– 3 juniper seeds
– ½ teaspoon cumin
– 1 teaspoon of salt.
– 1 teaspoon of brown sugar

Smoked plums pour brandy or whiskey and leave for a moment. Fry the mushrooms in cold water and pour over the wine.   
Pour a glass of water into a large pot, add Worcestershire sauce. Cover pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Divide meat into two parts, in each bit of bacon and venison. In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of lard in a pan and when the lard warms up, start frying meat on it. Start with a bacon and add venison after a while. When the meat is fried, put it in a pot with boiling water, leaving the fat in the pan. Add another spoon of lard and the rest of the meat. Fry and add it to the pot, do not throw the fat from the pan. Cook the meat in pot on very low heat for about 45 minutes stirring from time to time, if the water evaporates, add some more.   

When the meat is boiling, cut the onion into cubes and strain the sauerkraut. I do not rinse the sauerkraut, but if you think yours is too sour, you can do it once. Cut the white cabbage into thin strips.

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After about 30 minutes of cooking, heat the pans with fat after frying. Add olive oil, onion, bay leaf, allspice, juniper and caraway seeds. Fry for about 5 minutes on a low flame to let the onion glaze and blush.
Add diced tomatoes and fry for about 2 minutes. After this time, add sauerkraut and cook everything for 2 – 3 minutes on a larger fire stirring. Add ½ glass of water and bring to a boil.     

At this time, add the white cabbage to the pot with meat, stir the whole and cook for about 5 minutes until the cabbage will start to soften and reduce its volume. 

After 5 minutes, add the contents of the pan to the white cabbage, cut into strips of ribs, soaked mushrooms and plums with alcohol. Add salt, mix, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. 

After a few minutes, add the remaining ingredients – sugar, jam, chopped or grated apple. Cover and simmer for two hours with frequent stirring. It’s important that the stew do not stick to the bottom of pot. At the end of cooking, heat a spoonful of lard in a frying pan and fry sausage cut into slices.

Add it to the end of cooking, so that the sausage will not fall apart and be sliced. Add pepper and salt to fit your taste.    

Bigos should be served after overcooling and heating one or two days after preparation Frozen in a vacuum will be enjoyed long after the preparation. Thaw it in the fridge. 

Bigos was checked by our guests returning from Eastern. My friend mentions, that his mother-in-law cooks well, but this bigos pierced her recipe several times. They ate well. 

Such an exquisite, hunter’s stew tastes best at night in the field while hunting. 

Bon Appetit,

Happy Hunting!

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