So much begins with a meal...

Polish cuisine is a product of long history and comes in variety of dishes, tastes and flavors. Different regions have contributed their own specialities of Polish food. And not just regions. Throughout centuries Poland has been home to many guests of other nations. This is why French, Italian, German, Ukrainian, Jewish and even Oriental influences are present in Polish cooking. And modern cooks keep adding their own ideas.

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Home Polish Food Recipes Polish Recipes: Traditional Bigos
Polish Recipes: Traditional Bigos

How to make Polish Bigos?

You will need:

  • 1.5 kg (3 lbs) sauerkraut
  • 1 small cabbage
  • different kinds of meat: pork, chicken, beef, sausage (Polish kielbasa will be the best), about 250 g (0,5 lb.) of each meat, it can be freely changed to taste
  • smoked bacon (optional) - about 100 g (3,5 oz.)
  • one or two onions
  • mushrooms - about 50 g (1,75 oz.)
  • salt, pepper, allspice, laurel leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • oil

Chop the sauerkraut if necessary, add allspice and laurel leaves to it. Boil the sauerkraut in a large pot in a small amount of water for about 1 hour, until it softens.

Grate the cabbage, add mushrooms and boil it in a separate pot (it requires about 30-40 min). It's sauerkraut and meat which define Polish bigos, cabbage is optional. If you choose not too use it, add mushrooms to the sauerkraut.

It's important to use a few kinds of meat. You should choose good quality meat. It's up to you what exactly the amounts and proportions will be. We suggest about equal amount of each meat. Some smoked bacon can be added too (about half less than any of other meats), but it's not necessary.
Cut the meat into small pieces. Brown it in a frying pan on vegetable oil or other kind of fat. Add lots of chopped onion and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and wait until good amount of dripping appears.

Put the meat with dripping and onion to the pot with the sauerkraut. It is very important that you add the dripping too, because it determines the taste of the bigos very much.

Add the cabbage. Pour in one cup of dry red wine (not indispensible but enhances taste). Simmer it for about 30 minutes. Then your bigos is ready.

Traditional Polish BIgos Recipe
Traditional Polish bigos recipe - final effect

It can be served now, but remember that it's best to reheat it for a few times, as it will gain in taste and become more delicate then. Serve bigos with bread. You can store your bigos in the fridge or freeze it. Frozen bigos can be stored for quite a long time and quickly retrieved and reheated when needed. Chilled Polish vodka goes very well with bigos.