Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bigosz Stew

This stew is Polish and is pronounced, "bee-gosh" according to the cookbook I got it out of. Its super easy to make and each time I've made it, I've gotten tons of compliments!! This is also a great project/movie watching stew 'cause it prepares itself. You just put everything in a pot, then are free to work on a painting or watch a video until the house smells great and you realize how hungry you are. Oh, this makes a ton of food, and left-overs heat up beautifully.

4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 head cabbage, cut in eigths lengthwise
2 pounds Polish sausage, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (I use swedish potato sausage that's nitrate, nitrite and gluten free)
2-3 tart green apples, unpeeled
3 tomatoes, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon white vinegar
pinch of sugar (optional)

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Saute onion until soft.

Add cabbage slices and sausage.

Quarter and core apples, but do not peel. Quarter tomatoes and add to pot with apples, bay leaves, and vinegar.

Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Before serving, skim any fat from stew, remove bay leaves, and check seasoning. If apples were mildly flavored, you may wish to add a pinch of sugar. (I've made this recipe with and without sugar and it tastes good both ways... really it tasted the same both ways.)

Mickelson, Bon
nie Stewart, ed. Private Collection 2. Menlo Park: Junior League of Palo Alto Mid Peninsula, Inc., 1984.


DwarvenChef said...

That must be a small pot, haha. I'm making this right now (with a few changes... cider vinager, bratworst... think thats all.. Oh ya bacon fat :p It smeells great :D

DwarvenChef said...

Good one Katie, My changes where cider vinager, Bratworst, a dab of bacon drippings, and Red Cabbage. Also a bit heavier on the black pepper (I love that stuff). Very tasty and a do over. Thanks for posting it :D

Katie LeJoi said...

Bacon drippings and black pepper sounds great, totally not something I would have thought of... you must be like a chef or something. Anyhow, I'm glad it turned out okay, especially since you'll probably be eating it for several days~

DwarvenChef said...

I picked up some salt cured "Black Forest" bacon that states then no nitrites or nitrates have been added, only those naturally accuring in seasalt. Not sure if thats something you would want to try or not. Looked great so I got it :D I used the drippings I saved from Applewood smoked bacon from Niman Ranch, great stuff as well :D

Katie LeJoi said...

That Black Forest bacon sounds super good. I looked for it up here, but haven't come accross it. I buy Beeler's bacon instead ...pretty decent stuff.

John Trombley said...

For those who don't know, Bigosz or Bigos is what is generally called a 'hunter's stew', great for cold weather when lots of calories, fruit, and other belly ballast is healthy. (Of course you don't want to eat it to excess if you have modern central heating and don't ride a horse to work).

In those centuries it helped both to keep the hunters going and to make use of their provender. In the olden days (I'm not recommending this) the cook in the castle kitchen made enough of it to fill a small or not so small oak cask, and it was kept in a very cold cellar or unheated room. The cask mellowed it and even added a little flavor, just as oak casks do to wines. Every so often the entire contents were spooned out completely into large pots heated through, and more ingredients added, including fruit, red or white wine (even port) if desired, and more game, smoked meats, birds, domestic or otherwise, and so forth. It was then cooked down further, the idea being to keep it so rich and thick that it woudn't spoil. (But the FDA doesn't recommend this in these days of mechanical refrigeration!)

Some extra ingredients or alterations to your recipe given above can be tried, in addition to those already provided by your readers: I beg, borrow, or steal any bones or meat that would otherwise be thrown out by hunters or cooks of my acquaintance (roasted venison bones work well) and make them into a stock that I use as a basis for the entire recipe. Also the addition of sliced smoked pork or veal sausage (kielbasa) is traditional. Using sauerkraut, especially homemade or home-style, drained of its liquid, in place of cabbage, is a great improvement to my taste. You may add some of the reserved sauerkraut juice back to the Bigosz to taste instead of salting it and/or adding vinegar (careful--not much is needed).

It was common for Poles to use cupt-up dried plums (prunes) in place of or in addition to apples. These give a sweet, rich note that complements the meat and kraut very well.

Duch or goose meat, cooked or smoked, or confit d'oie (fat-preserved goose or duck) are also recommended if you like the taste.

I have found that if you like this concoction and use enough of it to justify the trouble, you can keep it in a cold refrigerator, skimming it and heating it twice a week and continuing adding enough of the main ingredients to preserve the balance of flavors. One winter I kept a huge dutch oven of it going all the way until springtime. The neighbors and shut-ins from the church seemed to love it. But again, you might not want to chance spoilage that might occur if you do this.

Best, John Trombley

RieslingRat said...

Oh, by the way---the reason I came across this blog is because I just was making a huge pot of Bigosz (cleaning all the bones and leftovers and game bird carcasses out of the freezers) and I was looking for something to serve with it, like a potato dish or something like that. If anyone has ideas, I'd love to know about them.

Also, I never could remember how to pronounce or spell the name of this dish, but then realized that I could just use as a name what I frequently said when I got that first big sip: "by GOSH!"