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As the weather cools outside, our thoughts turn to stews and soups, dishes that “warm you from the inside out.” Hearty dishes, like the one I’m about to share with you, that are the product of what was available.
The gardens have long yielded their fresh vegetables for the season, so the vegetables in soups and stews are kept in the root cellar, so named because it kept ‘root’ vegetables such as potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and cabbage, fresh for long periods of time. The meats, of course, were the product of the daily hunt, and vary the recipes based on what the hunt yielded that day.
Another traditional dish of my Slavic ancestors is called Bigos. Most families had their own recipe for this dish. For that reason, and since it’s mostly meat with little vegetable content other than what can be stored, many chefs call it “Polish Chili.” It is meant to cook in big pots, simmered for hours, and to be shared with your neighbors.
The following is a basic recipe for Bigos. Adjust seasonings to taste, of course, and I recommend serving it with a dark course, artisan bread.
1 ¾ lbs. of sauerkraut
1 head green cabbage
2 cups fresh mushrooms (any kind)
1 cup pitted prunes/raisins
1 lb. venison, cut into 1inch cubes
½ lb. stew meat, cut into 1inch cubes
½ lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1inch cubes
½ lb. kielbasa sausage, sliced
You will also need:
¼ cup flour
3 tbsp. Cooking oil
1 cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper
It’s time to get your large stew pot involved.
Remember, Bigos s is meant to be served with the meat, cabbage, and kraut to all be melded together and not be watery like a traditional stew. Serve it with the dark bread and enjoy!!