Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)

Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)

2 thick slices hickory smoked bacon, blanched and diced
1 pound fresh Polish sausage, blanched and sliced
1 pound beef or pork stew meat, cubed
1/4 cup flour
Vegetable oil as needed
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced domestic mushrooms
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 pound sauerkraut, drained and rinsed twice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Dash of hot pepper sauce
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes of Swiss-style liquid seasoning
Dash of mushroom powder (optional)
1/4 cup dry red wine
5 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large (6- to 8-quart) pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon until it renders its fat and turns light brown, not crisp. Using slotted spoon, carefully remove bacon to large (8- to 10-quart) earthenware casserole or other heavy oven-proof casserole.

Add sliced Polish sausage to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until sausage turns light brown. Using slotted spoon, remove sausage and place in casserole.

Working quickly, lightly dredge cubed meat into flour, then saute in hot bacon and sausage fat in pot 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. With slotted spoon, remove meat to casserole. You need 2 tablespoons fat remaining in pan; remove from heat to add oil as needed.

Return pot with bacon fat to heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, mushrooms, green cabbage and sauerkraut, and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Do not let vegetables brown.

Add bay leaf, basil, marjoram, paprika and crushed caraway seeds to pot and cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and lightly cook, stirring constantly, until liquid comes to boil.

Pour vegetables and stock over bacon, sausage and meat. Cover casserole tightly and cook in oven 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Makes about 8 servings.


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