Poland's National Dish - made to my Mama's recipes, using sauerkraut and plenty of Polish sausage!
2 jars sauerkraut e.g Krakus brand
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
500g very lean belly pork or pork shoulder
2 smoked kabanos (polish sausage)
50g dried porcini mushrooms
3 juniper berries
3 dried prunes (optional)
1.5 litres chicken stock made up with water
100g white mushrooms, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Drain the sauerkraut into a sieve. If the sauerkraut is very sour (and you would prefer it to be less sour) you can rinse it with cold water and then drain. If you like sour, then simply squeeze out the liquid using your clean hands. Set to one side.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook on a very low heat until the onions are very soft and lightly golden - around ten minutes.
Add the chopped pork to the pan and brown all over, until any fat has melted.
Add the chopped kabanos or smoked sausage to the pan.
In a separate bowl, pour one cup of hot water on the porcini mushrooms and leave them to soak.
Add the drained sauerkraut to the pan with the onions and meat.
Add the chicken stock and stir together well. Drain the porcini mushrooms, roughly chop and add to the sauerkraut. Add the juniper berries and prunes (if using) and pour in the cup of porcini mushroom stock, too, being careful not to add any of the grit at the bottom.
Cover with a lid, or tin foil and bake in the oven for one and a half hours, turning the oven down to 180 degrees Celsius after the first fifteen minutes.
Towards the end of the cooking time, chop the white mushrooms and fry them in a separate pan with a little vegetable oil. Add these into the sauerkraut, stir well and bake for a further thirty minutes.
The bigos is best eaten the day after cooking after being thoroughly well re-heated.
Serve with Polish rye bread.
Tip: you can also add some chopped, fresh white cabbage to this stew before cooking, which will make it stretch as you'll have a bigger quantity of Bigos at the end. It also slightly mellows the flavour if you prefer your final dish to be less sour. Some cooks add a teaspoon of tomato paste (instead of the mushrooms) and a couple of dried prunes for sweetness.
Recipe by Ren Behan - Author Wild Honey and Rye at https://www.renbehan.com/2015/03/bigos-hunters-stew.html