Bigos: A Traditional Polish Dish Perfect For Colder Weather

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-9-03-31-am One of the most delicious dishes in Polish cuisine is Bigos, or as it is sometimes called in English, Hunter’s Stew. For many Polish Greenpointers it’s a staple, but many locals still do not know about this fantastic cold weather dish. Extremely hearty and filling, it’s a stew that is perfect for a cold day. No one is entirely sure how the word bigos entered the Polish language, but some say that it comes from German begossen, meaning “doused” or “basted.” Another explanation is that it comes from Italian bigutta, or “pot for cooking soup.” But wherever it comes from, bigos is a delicious stew that is worth the wait in cooking it.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-9-58-14-amSo what ingredients do you need? The staple is cabbage. You need four heads of cabbage and four pounds of rinsed sauerkraut. A perfect plate of bigos requires great meat. You will need a pound of smoked kielbasa, a pound of pork ribs, a pound of pork butt and a quarter pound of bacon. Mushrooms are an essential ingredient as well. My recipe requires sixteen ounces of mushrooms and an ounce of dried mushrooms. Bay leaves, salt and lots of black pepper are also important to spice the dish. You need two tablespoons of flour and finally, you need a cup of apple juice. You can also add red peppers, carrots and other things you like in any other stew.

Ingredients:
4 heads of cabbage (finely chopped)
4 pounds of sauerkraut, rinsed
1 lb. smoked kielbasa
1 lb. of pork ribs
1 lb. of pork butt
1/4 lb. bacon
16 oz. mushrooms
1 oz. dried mushrooms
Bay leaves
Salt & black pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup apple juice
Optional: red peppers, carrots, any vegetables of your choosing

A big iron pot is essential for good bigos. First, brown the pork and spareribs in this large pot. Next, add the smoked pork butt with a cup of water and let it simmer for an hour. Then, add the sauerkraut and a cup of apple juice. After, chop the cabbage finely, adding it to the simmering sauerkraut. Throw in a lot of pepper and let the mixture simmer covered for an hour. Next, remove the lid and let it simmer for a half hour on very low heat. The simmering is essential to a great bowl of bigos. Alongside the mixture fry up the bacon until it is crisp and add it into the mixture too. Fry onions, mushrooms and flour until they just turn brown and then mix them into the simmering mixture. After, cut the kielbasa and throw it into the simmering mixture. After this bring the stew to a boil and let it simmer for another half an hour. Finally, it is ready to eat. Served hot, it will warm you up on the coldest of days.

If all this seems like too much work or takes too much time, then head down to Karczma (136 Greenpoint Avenue) on Greenpoint Avenue and enjoy their delicious bigos.

Karczma | 136 Greenpoint Avenue

About Geoff Cobb

Geoffrey Cobb is a Brooklyn high school history teacher and writer of the blog historicgreenpoint.wordpress.com. He has lived in Greenpoint for over 20years and is the author of a book on the history of the area, "Greenpoint Brooklyn's Forgotten Past."

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