This is my all time favourite and it is the national dish of Poland. In it's simplest form it is bacon and cabbage (but much different and better than the national dish of Ireland) and so I will give the recipe in a little more detail but experimentation on this recipe is encouraged. Bigos can vary greatly in taste and method of preparation from family to family as well as from region to region and I am going to implement a form where chorizo (Spanish/Portuguese sausage) is used instead of kielbasa (Polish sausage). I have to wait until I can get some good chorizo from London as it is not popular here and I will post the outcome then.
One thing to remember is that it tastes better each time it is reheated so you should make a larger amount which should last for quite a few days and really the best bigos is the last bit that is left after a few days. Also reheat it very well so that the meat is not hard with fat, and also to ensure you do not get ill.
What you need:
- 1.5kg sour/pickled cabbage (Available at your nearest Polski Sklep/Polish shop)
- Onion (1)
- Garlic (2 cloves)
- Pepper (4 whole corns)
- Jalowca (2 corns) (See photo, available at Polski Sklep)
- Apple (1)
- Dried mushroom (5og) (Available at Polski sklep - ask for suszone grzyby [soo-shonay gshibee])
- Liscie laurowe (Leaves used in Polish cooking - Polski sklep)
- Vegeta seasoning (veg seasoning available in Polski sklep)
- Dried plums or plum jam (2 tablespoons)
- Smoked meat (Any you like)
- Kielbasa (Polish sausage)
- Boczek (A fatty Polish bacon pronounced bor-chek)
The meat amounts and type vary according to how meaty and fatty you like it. Obviously the more fatty the stronger and nicer the taste. The original bigos which the hunters had was very fatty. This recipe is a good way to use up spare meat that you have and do not know what to use it for.
1. Wash the cabbage in cold water. Strain and put fresh water in and rinse again. Repeat about 3 times and taste to ensure the cabbage is not sour anymore. If it is rinse again.
Squeeze cabbage to remove most of water.
2. Put dry mushrooms into water and leave for about 20 mins.
3. While the cabbage is in the pot use a sharp, long knife to cut the long strands of cabbage.
4. Dice onion and add to cabbage. Add whole garlic cloves and peppercorns.
5. Skin apple and dice and add to cabbage.
6. Take mushrooms out of water (After about 20 mins)and rinse with fresh water . Add to cabbage.
7. Add vegeta seasoning (No exact amount, roughly a couple of teaspoons)
8. Stir all ingredients and then put on low heat. Cover and boil until cabbage is soft (Anywhere from 30mins to 2 hours depending on the cabbage)
9. While the cabbage is boiling cut meat quite small and stew in frying pan with water. When soft add meat and juice to cabbage.
10. Keep stirring
11. Add plums or plum jam (I prefer using jam) towards end of cooking. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. About 10 minutes after you determine the cabbage was soft and adding jam, it is ready.
Bigos is traditionally served with bread and you hold the bread in one hand and take a bite while eating bigos using the other hand. But you can have it with anything you feel appropriate. The first time I came across Bigos I did not know what it was and so I put it into a roll and ate it like a sandwich. Although I got some strange looks it still tasted great this way.