Chef John's Bigos (Polish Hunter's Stew)


This meaty stew is usually made with wild game such as venison or boar, but you can use beef, pork, or other meat--just use a lot. It's perfect for feeding a crowd, especially when the weather turns cold and dreary.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
11 hrs
6 servings


  • ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 cups packed, drained sauerkraut (not rinsed)

  • 1 small head green cabbage, quartered and sliced

  • 4 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound Polish sausage links, sliced (or any other sausage)

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped

  • 3 pitted prunes, diced

  • 1 cup dry red wine

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • salt to taste


  1. Place mushrooms in warm water to soak and soften, 10 or 15 minutes. Drain and chop.

  2. Heat butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven; add sauerkraut and sliced cabbage. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally. Brown the meat and add it to pot while sauerkraut is cooking per directions below.

  3. Heat skillet over medium-high heat; add bacon and cook until browned but not crisp. Transfer bacon to pot with cabbage, leaving bacon grease in skillet.

  4. Brown pork shoulder pieces in bacon grease over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook and stir until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer pork to pot. Add beef chunks to skillet; sprinkle with salt. Cook and stir until browned, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add sausage slices to skillet and cook and stir until browned. Transfer slices to pot.

  5. Reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add chopped onion and a sprinkle of salt; cook and stir until onion turns translucent and starts to take on some color. Stir in chopped mushrooms and diced prunes. Cook and stir about 2 minutes. Pour in dry red wine; raise heat to medium-high. Simmer until wine is reduced to where very little liquid remains. Transfer onion mixture to pot with cabbage and meat. Add paprika, caraway seeds, thyme, allspice, bay leaf, pepper, and salt. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

  6. Cover tightly; simmer over medium-low heat until meat is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Allow stew to cool slightly; refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.

  7. Place pot over low to medium-low heat and add a splash of water. Bring stew to low simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until hot, 10 to 15 minutes.

Chef's Note:

You can serve this right after you cook it, but I find it's so much better reheated the next day after all the flavors blend.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

640 Calories
45g Fat
19g Carbs
32g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 640
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 45g 58%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 1174mg 51%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 53mg 266%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 5mg 25%
Potassium 639mg 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love