Sauerkraut-and-meat stew (Bigos)

polish bigos

What bigos is?

It is a typically Polish meal that is well known and has been around since the 16th century.

At the beginning, one of its basic ingredients was chopped meat. The sauerkraut base was introduced in the 18th century.

What is the meal so many poets have been writing about, actually?

The origin of its name (“bigos”) is not known. Some point to German, some others – to Latin. A traditional Polish bigos is made of cabbage, sauerkraut, muschrooms and fine meat.

According to old Polish recipes, the amount of meat should be equal to the one of sauerkraut. Some choose to make the said meal out of cabbage only, but then it may be too sour.

Sometimes bigos is also garnished with dried mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes or dried plums. In fact, every single housewife has her own recipe for this meal, so you can be sure that every single bigos will taste differently. All the ingredients of the meal are braised in a big pot for several hours a day, few days in a row. The longer the stew is made, the deeper and more profound its taste is. It should be as thick as possible. Its color highly depends on the ingredients used.

The stew in question is typically served with white wheat bread. Traditionally, bigos is rather satiating and therefore – it is made mainly in autumn and winter. It is exceptionally popular around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is an interesting tradition in many households to make a New Year’s stew from cooked meats and sausages not eaten during Christmas period.
The stew may also be tried in autumn and winter while attending various fairs and visiting restaurants serving Polish meals. It is difficult to find a Pole who would not like sauerkraut-and-meat stew, so housewives typically cook a big pot of it to last for a few days. The more the stew is cooked the tastier it becomes.

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