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bigos - polish hunter's stew

Hearty stew that gets better the longer it stews. 10-15 servings.

Stews are very forgiving so all measures are approximate. This recipe is a variation of Bigos by The Polish Housewife.




  1. Mise en place
    1. Slice sausage in half lengthwise then cut into 1 inch chunks.
    2. Cut beef into 1 inch cubes.
    3. Slice bacon into 1/2 wide strips.
    4. Cut ham into 1/2 inch cubes.
    5. Drain and rinse sauerkraut. With all the processed meats going into the bigos, skipping this may make it too salty.
    6. Peel then roughly dice onions.
    7. Slice mushrooms vertically into 1/4 inch sections.
    8. Peel, core and rough chop the apples.
    9. Quarter the prunes.
  2. Place dutch oven onto medium-high burner.
  3. While dutch oven is still cool, add in the bacon. This will help it render out the fat.
  4. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally until crispy, then remove and drain on paper towel.
  5. Keep approx 2 tbsp rendered bacon fat and sauté onions until translucent.
  6. Add in mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. After mushrooms soften and shrink a little, make a well in the center of onion and mushrooms, exposing the surface of the dutch oven.
  8. Place stew beef into well and brown. Turn the pieces so that even browning happens on all sides.
  9. Once lightly browned, pour in beer or beef stock. Deglaze the bottom of the dutch oven for all that lovely fond.
  10. Add in all remaining ingredients, stir thoroughly, then turn burner on high.
  11. Allow stew to come to a full boil then turn down to medium-low to low.
  12. Cover and monitor over the course of 10 minutes. Adjust temperature as needed to maintain a simmer while the pot is covered.
  13. Cook for at least 2 hours, replenishing liquid loss with water as needed.
  14. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for 1 week. Bigos also freezes really well and can be kept several months.

Note: You can allow this to simmer much longer than 2 hours and it really gets better over time. This is the type of stew that can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated over and over. It likes the abuse. Trust me.