Traditional recipes

Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)

Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)

Bigos is an Eastern European stew that has many adaptations; some versions incorporate rice and/or a variety of vegetables and meats, so you can use whatever you have on hand. This version is a Polish hunter’s stew that features kielbasa, smoky bacon, melty cabbage, and lots of delicious broth that can be sopped up with bread.


  • 1 lb. double-smoked slab bacon, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1½ lb. kielbasa sausage, sliced on a diagonal ½" thick
  • 3 Tbsp. double concentrated tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head of green cabbage (about 2 lb.), cored, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, sliced 1½" thick
  • 1 Pink Lady apple, cored, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 lb. sauerkraut (not drained; about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups homemade beef stock or water
  • Small dill sprigs, dark rye or pumpernickel bread, and unsalted butter (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, stirring often, until brown and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Transfer bacon to a small bowl with a slotted spoon; set aside. Cook kielbasa in bacon fat in pot, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl with tongs; set aside.

  • Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic to same pot, and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste darkens slightly in color and begins to stick to pot, about 2 minutes. Add paprika, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately add onions and turn to coat. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in wine, and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until smell of the alcohol cooks off, about 3 minutes. Stir in salt, then add cabbage, carrots, apple, potatoes, sauerkraut, stock, and reserved bacon. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently, mixing well halfway through, 1 hour. Mix in reserved kielbasa. Cover and cook until bacon is tender, cabbage is meltingly soft, and potatoes are cooked through, 30–60 minutes.

  • Divide stew among bowls. Top with dill. Serve with bread and butter alongside.

  • Do Ahead: Stew can be made 1 week ahead (flavor will improve as time goes on). Cover and chill.

Recipe by Yekaterina BoytsovaReviews Sectionsounds like "korean army soup". throw salty meats together with fermented cabbage.This stew is absolutely delicious! I think the salt in this recipe is a typo and should be 2 tsp instead of 2 tbsp. With the saltiness from the bacon, sausage and broth it doesn’t really need much more added salt. I would salt to taste.This is a wonderful recipe. I made some adjustments based on what I had (not crazy). Instead of tomato paste I had actual tomatoes from my garden so I chopped them and cooked then for 15-20 in the bacon fat with garlic until they darkened. I used beer instead of wine, no potatoes, and added some orange bell peppers just for fun. Oh also I just chopped up sliced bacon instead of cubing slab bacon. Even with all my shenanigans this is amazing and wonderful #highlyrecommend.Anne StowellNew York10/06/19This stew was so delicious! I made a big pot for a group of 5 friends and there wasn't a single bit left at the end of the night! The cabbage gets so melty and soft,and the big chunks of bacon and sausage are delicious to be sure, but the broth is the best part! It's so flavorful and rich, and totally worth the effort.This was just ok. One should really love cabbage and sauerkraut before making this. The dish seemed to be 85% those 2 ingredients. Even if it wasn't statistically that lopsided, the taste and abundance of those ingredients totally dominated (and I do like sauerkraut or cabbage).Delicious for a cold evening. I halved it without any issues. I love salt, and as written this recipe does come out pretty salty. So next time I'll salt to taste vs. just throwing in the amount suggested.Kathleen SouderTN11/06/18I don't get the bad ratings, this was AMAZING! We ate it three nights in a row because it was so good. I made a few tweaks:- Served it over mashed potatoes (Tasted amazing but it was kind of potato overload so in the next round I might just take out the potatoes from the Bigos and serve over the mashed ones)- Used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon (That was what I had on hand - maybe it helped it not be too salty?)- Didn't put the apple in cause I didnt have one - still tasted greatNot a do over for me. Thought I would love it because I like all the ingredients. Ended up putting most of it in the trash

From a Polish Country House Kitchen's Hunter's Stew (Bigos)

Bigos, or traditional Polish Hunter's Stew, is one of those homey recipes that changes from home to home. In fact, in From A Polish Country House Kitchen, Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden describe the stew as Poland's version of chili—long stewed meat with a suggestion of vegetable served with thick rustic bread. Their take blends pork, venison, beef, veal, and sausage with cabbage, sauerkraut, and mushrooms for a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, hearty meal for the meatiest of meat lovers. In other words, it's an awesome addition to your late winter repertoire.

Why I picked this recipe: I have never simmered sauerkraut in a meat stew, and what better way to try it than the meatiest of meat stews?

What worked: The tanginess of the sauerkraut and sweetness of the prunes marries effortlessly with the tender meats.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: The choice in meat is truly up to you. Don't feel comfortable cooking veal? Use pork. Can't find venison? Substitute any slightly gamey meat, like lamb.

Reprinted with permission from From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food By Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden, copyright 2012. Published by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.


  • 1 1/2 cups bacon (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork (cubed)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 5 onions (quartered)
  • 1 pound mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes in 1 cup hot water
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes (cut into pieces, with juice)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (omit sugar if using applesauce in place of apples)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 cups good-quality sauerkraut (like Frank’s or homemade, rinsed and drained)
  • 5 apples (peeled, cored and chunked OR 2 1/2 cups chunky applesauce)
  • 2 cups ham (diced)
  • 2 1/2 cups smoked Polish sausage (diced)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound leftover beef or veal (cubed)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound leftover chicken breast (cubed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Crusty rye bread
  • Optional: Boiled potatoes
  • Optional Garnish: Sour Cream

What should you serve with this Bigos Stew?

Bigos stew is usually served with a few slices of fresh Polish bread and some dill pickles.

But there are other popular options as well, such as: potatoes (mashed, boiled, roasted), dumplings without filling (pyzy, kopytka) or homemade kluski noodles.

Drink-wise, Hunter’s Stew pairs nicely with dry (or semi-dry) red wine. And as any party-goer will tell you, nothing goes better with Bigos than a shot (or two) of Polish vodka.

Bigos Królewski - Polish Hunter's Stew

This traditional Polish stew goes back to the times when Poland was ruled by the kings. Bigos Królewski was eaten only by the nobility who could afford exotic spices. A poor men's version of this dish was called Bigos Hultajski and had more cabbage than anything else. Luckily we live in the times when spices and meat are available widely. So let's get cooking!

For Polish Hunter's Stew, I prefer to use slow-cooker but you can also simmer it in the pot on the stove.

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This recipe makes around 6 portions


400g (14.1oz) of stewing diced beef (chuck , skirt, leg or flank)

250g (8.8oz) of kiełbasa (I used podwawelska but any smoked sausage will do just fine)

150g (5.3oz) of lardons ( chopped bacon also can be used)

500g (17.6oz) of white cabbage sliced

a handful of dried boletus mushrooms

2-3 prunes ( 6 if using canned)

0,5tsp ground black pepper

1. Begin by hydrating the mushrooms in 1L of boiling water for around 15 minutes. When ready remove the mushrooms and pour the water into slow-cooker dish leaving behind the last 50ml of water ( usually contains sand).

2. In the frying pan, sear the lardons and sausage, use high heat and do so until browned. Transfer meat to the slow-cooker leaving fat in the pan.

3. In the same pan brown the diced onions then transfer to the slow-cooker.

4. Next , brown the diced beef, do it in two batches then transfer to the crockpot.

5. Add all the remaining ingredients and cover with a lid, set the slow-cooker on high heat for 5 hours. After the first hour give it a good stir, you can repeat string every now and then (I love the aroma so I check every hour :)

6. When the bigos is ready, serve with sourdough bread or boiled potatoes. You can store it in the fridge for up to three days. You can also freeze it if you make a bigger batch.

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Bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew)

Bigos is a traditional Polish dish made with a variety of meats that have been cut into bite-sized pieces and stewed with sauerkraut and cabbage. Also sometimes called “Hunter’s Stew” – this delicious, hearty meal can be made with just about any sort of meat including pork, poultry, beef, or game, plus a variety of vegetables.

There are many recipes for Bigos – and really you can use any ingredients you have on hand. Our recipe today is made with chunks of pork, kielbasa, and bacon, plus onions, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes and (of course) sauerkraut and cabbage.

Bigos has a wonderful smoky flavor that complements and balances the zesty bite of the sauerkraut in this soup. A blend of seasonings including paprika, allspice, caraway seeds, thyme, marjoram and bay leaf add a wonderful depth to the broth in this soup.

As you work your way through your bowl of Bigos, you might also be surprised to find some chunks of pitted prunes in and among the meat and vegetables! The rich, sweet prunes are another great contrasting flavor and texture in this dish – and it will keep you coming back for more!

Like most Polish family recipes, this Bigos recipe feeds a crowd and it is often served for the holidays at Christmas and Easter with some rye bread on the side. Feel free to cut the recipe back if you’d like – but Bigos will keep just fine for several days in the refrigerator. We also think it tastes even better when reheated and the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Step 3/4

  • 75 g tomato paste
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
  • pot (large)

Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add pork neck. Fry for approx. 2 – 3 min., or until browned on all sides. Add white cabbage and fry for approx. 10 min., then add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add fried bacon and onion mixture, sauerkraut, tomatoes, and beef stock. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce to medium-low heat, cover, and let the stew simmer for approx. 30 min.

Polish Bigos – Hunter’s Stew

Polish Bigos (Hunter’s Stew) is one of the most known Polish dishes. It’s pronounced: [ˈbʲiɡɔs]. Each family has it’s own recipe for bigos and each bigos is different, but the core is sauerkraut or/and fresh shredded cabbage and various kinds of chopped meats. You can use meats you like or which have left in the fridge. Yes, this is a great way to get rid of leftovers:) The more kinds of meats you use, the richer the taste, just follow your likes.

You need to stew all the ingredients for couple of hours. Some cooks are making bigos for 3 days, each day stewing again and cooling, so that bigos’ flavors combine and give the best taste:) People in Poland say that the more times you warm up bigos, the better it tastes.

You can roast or fry your meats before combining with sauerkraut. Below you will find my recipe for bigos, I like lean meats which I roast, but I add sausage which is rather fat, to add flavor. This time I use only sauerkraut.


  • 2 kg/ 4,5 lb sauerkraut
  • 1 kg/ 2 lb pork shoulder
  • 600 g/ 1,5 lb Polish smoked sausage (I used 2 kinds of kiełbasa)
  • 2 thick slices smoked ham
  • few dried forest mushrooms
  • handful dried plums
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 cup red dry wine
  • 0,5 ts caraway
  • 1 ts marjoram
  • 4 seeds allspice
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper

Place dried wild mushrooms in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave for rehydration for half an hour, then cut mushrooms into strings. Save the water for later.

Check your sauerkraut, if it’s very sour, rinse it roughly. (I never rinse mine, as I like bigos to be really sour, but you may like to balance the taste, specially if you cook it for the first time.) Chop it and place sauerkraut in the big pot, add allspice and bay leaves. Add cut mushrooms, add water from mushrooms’ rehydration and 2 more cups of water, bring to boil and simmer. Stir every several minutes. Check if there is enough liquid inside, so that it did not get burned. Add more water if necessary.

In the meantime chop pork shoulder into bite sized chunks, roughly fry them on the skillet to close the flavor inside. Then place them the oven and roast for about 50 minutes in 170 C/ 340 F.

Dice Polish sausage and fry on the skillet, add to the sauerkraut.

Chop onions, fry on the pan and add to the pot.

Dice smoked ham and add to the pot. You can use smoked bacon instead, to add smoky flavor to your bigos . I used freshly homemade smoked ham, which I had left from Christmas.

Cut dried plums into strings, add to the pot.

After an hour you should have all the meats and other stuff inside. Season with pepper, add caraway and marjoram. Add salt if needed (sausage and sauerkraut are salty, so check the taste first). Simmer for another 40 minutes, stir from time to time. Liquid should evaporate. Add a cup of red dry wine, which you like. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Let it cool slowly.

You can serve Polish Bigos – Hunter’s Stew right away or keep it in the fridge and warm up on the next day. Best served with rye bread and some may say- with Polish vodka)

New-Style Polish Hunter’s Stew (Bigos Revisited)

Smoky and flavorful, this is a stew you'll want to keep on hand when the colder weather hits. If you can't easily find kabanos (a type of Polish sausage), you can swap in more kielbasa. When thinking about what wine to add, find an inexpensive bottle you wouldn't mind drinking.

Serve with rye bread and butter.

Storage Notes: The stew can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Where to Buy: Kabanos, a smoked and air-dried Polish sausage, can be purchased at Eastern European grocery stores.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

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In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in the 2 cups of hot water.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch over or another wide heavy pot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, stirring, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large plate. Add the kielbasa and kabanos, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the slices are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the bacon. Add the pork loin to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer the pork to the plate with the bacon and sausages.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the fat in the pot cook until softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until the vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, lift the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and transfer to a plate. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid.

Stir 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the cabbage mixture, then add the sauerkraut. Make a well in the center of the pot, add the bay leaves, marjoram, allspice, drained mushrooms and meat mixture and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the beef broth, wine, prunes and reserved mushroom broth and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the stew is at a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, getting into the edges of the pot with the spoon, for 30 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced and thickened, and the stew is flavorful, about 45 minutes more.

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Garnish with the dill fronds and serve hot.

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Antoni in the Kitchen" by Antoni Porowski with Mindy Fox (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019)

Recipe for Polish Bigos (Traditional Polish Hunter’s Stew)

To begin with you have to cook the meat. Cut it into small pieces and add to the IP pot. Add washed mushrooms, vegeta, bay leaf, all spice, colourful pepper and flat spoon of salt. Pour water into the pot to the level of meat.

Close the lid, move the valve into sealing position and programme Manual for 30 min. Meanwhile prepare the veg. Drain the sauerkraut and cut into 1 cm pieces (wash with water if the cabbage is very sour). Chop the white cabbage, plums into squares and sausage into half moon shapes.

Cut the onion and bacon into smaller pieces and fry on the pan.

After the programme finishes leave for another 10 (NPR). After that remove the remaining pressure and open the lid. Remove the meat and mushrooms from the pot.

When cooled down, cut the mushrooms into slices, remove the bones from the meat and then shred into smaller pieces.

Add to the meat bullion: sauerkraut, meat, fried bacon and onion, mushrooms, plums, tomato paste and marjoram.

Now add sausage and white cabbage.

Push gently but make sure it is not higher than max level on the inner side of your pot.

Close the lid again and set up programme Manual for another 5 min. After leave for another 10-15 min (NPR). Open the lid and mix everything together.

Season with salt and pepper. If you like, you can add roux (lard with flour) into the pot (adds extra flavour but also more calories). With little effort your dinner is ready to be served. Best with potatoes or piece of sourdough bread.

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