Bigos is a dish that would be served at a Polish Christmas, it's comforting and warm. It uses a combination of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut, something I've never thought to do before, and we loved it. Here I used store bought sauerkraut, and it was delicious, but I think it would be fabulous with homemade, as it's a bit crunchier.
This makes a huge batch of bigos, you will need an extremely large pot, which luckily I have. Now my family love this sort of food, but we did have it for a few days. You can absolutely halve the recipe, no reason why it wouldn't work, or if you have room in your freezer, make the large batch, it freezes well according to the original recipe.
You can use pork neck instead of chuck steak, if you prefer, or use a combination of both. You can also make this with leftover roast meats.
With the smoked speck, you can use smoked bacon or pancetta.
Some people add prunes, I chose not to. If you want to add it, add 5-6 prunes, cut each prune into 3 pieces. and add it when you add the bay leaves.
Now I also added more liquid than the original recipe as we like this sort of food as stew/soup. Just add less water if you want it thicker, or just reduce it more.
This is a great dish to cook on the weekend, then eat it during the week, when you don't have as much time to cook.
This is hearty and delicious, something I will definitely be making for years to come.
1½ cups of dried porcini mushrooms
500g of beef chuck steak, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2cm thick piece of smoked speck, about 150g, cut into thick lardons
2 larges onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
225g of fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 small cabbage, shredded
About 500g of smoked sausage, I used kransky, thickly sliced
350g tomato passata
1-2 teaspoons vegeta, to taste
4 bay leaves
1-2 small red chillies (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of salt
6-8 allspice seeds
1/2 tespoon of pepper
About 1.5kg of sauerkraut
Place dried mushrooms in a bowl, pour over boiling water, to cover, soak for about 30 minutes. When soft, remove mushrooms, reserve water from soaking mushrooms, roughly chop the mushrooms.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat a really large pot over medium high heat, add oil and brown meat. Remove meat from pan, add bacon and render for a few minutes. Add onion and garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown, for about 3 minutes.
Add fresh cabbage to the pot, return the meat, add the dried mushrooms. Add smoked sausage, tomato passata, vegeta, 2 cups water, bay leaves, chillies, if using, 1 teaspoon salt, peppercorns, allspice seeds and pepper. Now add the dried mushroom water, just pour it in slowly, you don't want to add the grit that collects at the bottom of the bowl. Now add just enough water, if needed, to cover the cabbage, mix to combine. Cover and cook on medium to medium low heat for about 15 min (until cabbage is soft). Stir occasionally.
Add sauerkraut, mix, add more water, only if needed. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning, add more vegeta, salt and pepper, if needed, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. If your bigos has too much liquid at this stage, and you want it thicker, cook it uncovered for the last 30 minutes instead, or longer, if needed, you can cook it how you like it.
Serve hot, with crusty bread.
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