Clever recipe for Polish national dish – from grandma’s old cookbook!

Bigos tastes more like grandma's recipe.
Bigos tastes more like grandma’s recipe. IMAGO/Panthermedia

If you want to know how a country ticks, you need to know how people eat. This also and especially applies to Poland. Always solid, down to earth, a little hearty – this applies to the population here, but also to their national dish. Bigos is a delicious stew. With pork and lots of cabbage.

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Where the name of the court comes from is not definitively clear. One theory is that bigos derives from the old Italian word “bigutta” meaning cauldron or soup pot. Another interpretation is popular with us. Therefore, the term comes from the German word “beiguss” and described as early as the 16th century that liquid should be added continuously during cooking (basting).

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What is certain, however, is that Poles love their national dish. It is still widespread today and has long been exported to Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. It tastes better everywhere when grandma grabs the wooden spoon. We have a traditional recipe for you – from a Polish grandmother’s cookbook.

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Bigos – recipe for the Polish national dish

You need it

1 kilogram of white cabbage (white cabbage), 1 large can of sauerkraut (850 grams), 1 kilogram of pork neck (neck ridge), 250 grams of pork belly (smoked), 100 grams of onion, 140 grams of tomato paste ( triple, 2 cans of 70 grams each), 2 bay leaves, 5 juniper seeds, paprika powder (noble sweet), paprika powder (spicy), chili powder, salt, pepper, fat for frying

Also: a handful of prunes and mushrooms to taste.

This is how it is done

Cut the pork belly into not too big pieces and fry the meat in fat. Cut the pork neck (the crest of the neck) into pieces approximately 2 centimeters long, season with plenty of pepper, pepper, salt and chili (if desired), add to the pork belly and fry briefly and hot.

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Then put the meat in the oven preheated to 175 degrees and bake there for about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the cabbage (or cut it into slices) and cook it in a large pot with about 0.5 liters of water until it softens.

Poles love their Bigots.  you too soon?
Poles love their Bigots. you too soon? IMAGO/Panthermedia

Also cook sauerkraut and add to the white cabbage. Add: Diced onion, bay leaves, juniper seeds, tomato paste and all the browned meat with gravy. Mix well.

Now let everything simmer together for another hour. Then adjust them again with paprika, pepper, chili and salt. In the end, it should be pleasantly spiced, not burning in the mouth.

Make sure to stir regularly. Otherwise, it can brown quickly if there is not enough liquid in the pot. If necessary, add a little water (or better: broth).

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Different types of meat are also used regionally in Poland. For example, you can replace half of the pork neck with 0.5 kilograms of beef. But then the dish should be boiled longer. And always remember: if the meat is too lean, the dish will lose its taste. Then you should always add some fat.

Even in Poland, it is debatable whether prunes and mushrooms belong to Bigos. If desired, add one or both for the last half hour.

On the other hand, one thing is certain: the more often you reheat this dish, the better it tastes. Grandma knew that.

We wish you bon appetit!

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