Bigos: My Easter Tradition
Well, technically, bigos was a tradition at my holidays on my Polish side. This year I just needed that comfort of home, so I whipped up a huge batch of it today for Easter.
After Mass I came home and started right into the preparations. I was so excited that I forgot to make any notes about quantity or time with the ingredients! Well, that’s going to make for a shitty recipe. But nonetheless I am going to at least explain the process. Bigos is one of those things that has almost unlimited variations. Technically, it is a soup made with a variety of meats and cabbage/sauerkraut. Legend is Polish hunters would make this and throw whatever they caught/killed/carried while on hunting trips. They would just keep the stew on a low simmer and continually add to it, which leads to another trait–very long cooking time.
For meats, I used pork shoulder, kielbasa and beef (beef is uncommon, but worked with my budget.) Pork belly, bacon, veal are more traditional inclusions. They were given a quick browning (not to cook!) and added to a pot with sauteeing onion, lots of sauerkraut and seasonings: garlic powder, caraway seed, juniper berries and bay leaves. Immediately the heat went down to low, a dull simmer, with 60-40 chicken broth and apple juice, plus a can of tomato paste.
Then comes the Herculean effort to just let it sit. After a few hours of low simmer I added sliced kielbasa. Another hour I added sliced mushrooms. Over-all I let it go for over six hours, and it’s still simmering now, seven hours later. But the wait is worth it…
NOTE: I used a large wok-like pan to make mine. That is not a good way. Use a large soup pot or a slow cooker. But to my horror this morning that was all I had that was large enough so I had to make do.