Sep 24, 2015

Hunter’s Stew is Polish comfort food

Polish Hunter's Stew Bigos

My dad used to make hunter’s stew but he called it kapusta, which means cabbage in Polish. Hunter’s stew, also called bigos, is based on sauerkraut  and it usually has added meats including kielbasa. This recipe does not belong only to Poles. There are many varieties of hunter’s stew in eastern Europe but they almost all include sauerkraut and various meats.

Bigos has been around for centuries. People used to cook big pots of this stew for hours, even days, adding all kinds of meats from beef, pork, ham, sausages, venison, even rabbit – after all it was a “hunter’s” stew.

I’ve been working on finding a simpler way to make bigos and now I’m sharing my own recipe, which doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or a lot of work, and there is less focus on meat and more focus on the sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, mushrooms, and lots of flavor.

The recipe starts with store-bought sauerkraut and the best kind to buy is the one they sell in the refrigerated section and I use store-bought chicken cooking stock (unsalted) because there is plenty of salt already in the sauerkraut. I have also made my hunter’s stew with homemade beef stock but I am not a fan of store-bought beef stock, only chicken.

Hunter’s stew, like most stews (and like me) gets better with age 🙂 so try to make it a day or two ahead and let it marinate in the refrigerator before serving. Some people serve it with rye bread but we always had it with mashed potatoes. The strong flavors of the stew and the mild potatoes goes really well together.

It takes a lot of chopping and shredding but otherwise, this dish cooks with virtually no effort after that. Smacznego. – Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

8 Comments on "Hunter’s Stew is Polish comfort food"

  1. Christine

    I love all your recipes and will try some of them aoon.

  2. Greg

    Do you have to use Allspice berries or can you use ground Allspice? If so, how much?


    Hi jenny,
    You are the very best, easiest to follow for all your cooking on the www! im so glad I found your site! i did have some trouble finding your bigos recipe now though!? but have persevered through the swamp to finally get yours, Im going to make it tomorrow, I know it will be ? great, I needed your method to feel like I could tackle it ,,and now Ive read it.. wish you had a video too.. Ive read that fermented foods help the immune system/gut health , so no more virus here !BEST…??????Cheryl????????????

  4. BigDad61

    Could you recommend a less expensive and easier to find mushroom ?

    • Poppa Mioduszewski

      You can use white button mushrooms. Mushrooms absorb the flavour of what they are included in. Gently sweat (sauté) in butter for about 2 mins.. medium heat and they will impart a bit of flavour to the dish.

  5. jimmygourmet

    I’m proud to be Polish!

  6. MO

    I always add 2 bay leafs, glass of red wine, pepper corns and ends of cold cuts. (Leave the sink out ) . More kraut.
    Dziekuje za inne domowe przepisy.

    • Charlotte

      Is the glass of red wine for the pot or the stew? If it is for the pot, by all means double the wine & give the other half to the cook. Tastes better that way.

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