Polish Hunter’s Stew {Bigos}

Bigos is a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut, various meats and mushrooms. I often make it if I have a bunch of leftover meats. You can use as much as the recipe calls for or adjust to fit your preference (more of less meat). It will turn out great no matter what… I promise. 

It’s a dish that’s often present on a Polish table for Christmas or any gathering really. It maybe because it’s cheap to make and it’s made of cabbage, and we love cabbage. In my home growing up, we had a cellar in the basement where we stored canned goods and extra food. My dad installed a stove down there and we had a pot of bigos on it pretty much constantly. Many times when unexpected guests stopped in,  this was a convenient dish to have ready to serve. 

It is also a great potluck dish. If you cook a large batch ahead of time and place in jars while hot, you can store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Pop it into a crockpot the day of the party, and you are set!

I try to make my own sauerkraut (recipe here), but I found a brand (Silver Floss Barrel Cured Shredded Sauerkraut) that’s really close to the real thing (you can most likely find it at your local grocery store). The list of ingredients: cabbage, water, salt. This means that the cabbage was made the old way: souring in a barrel, salt only, no vinegar added. Plus it’s made in my husband’s home state, Wisconsin, so it must be great. 

It is a much liked dish amongst my family members and friends, so I normally make a big batch. This recipe also requires quite a large pot. I have one that is exclusively designated for cooking bigos. Leftovers will keep well in the fridge, or freezer well and you have a last minute dinner in a matter of minutes. 

A 5 quart pot will accommodate this recipe, it just might be messy to stir.

Polish Hunter's Stew {Bigos}

  • Yields: Many
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1h 15min


  • 4 (14 oz) cans of sauerkraut
  • 1 small cabbage
  • 6 strips of smoked bacon
  • 1 lb of beef or pork (pork roast or smoked kiełbasa or both)
  • 1 cup of chicken/beef stock
  • 1 1/2 cups of dried mushrooms, I used Shiitake (or 8 oz package of fresh mushrooms)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can of tomato paste (or 1/3 cup of ketchup or 1 (14 oz) can of stewed tomatoes)
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tsp of salt
  • 10 pepper corns
  • 6-8 allspice seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper


  1. Soak died mushrooms for about 1 hour. When soft, cook for about 20-30 minutes, cool and chop (reserve water from cooking mushrooms).

  2. Cube raw (beef or pork) meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large pot (4-5 quart), sauté it in a teaspoon of cooking oil, add garlic and cook until the edges turn brown. Remove meat from pan, add cubed bacon, sausage (if using) and onion (and chopped fresh mushrooms, if using), sauté until golden brown.

  3. Chop cabbage and add to pot, return the cooked beef, chopped dried mushrooms, add tomato paste, salt (2 tsp) bay leaves, pepper corns, allspice seeds, mix, cover and cook on medium to medium low heat for about 15 min (until cabbage is soft). Stir occasionally.

  4. Add sauerkraut, mix, cover and cook for another hour.


The dish is done at this point, but it’s best to cook ahead of time, store in the fridge overnight (or a couple of nights) and reheat. You may need to add a bit of moisture (stock or water).

Enjoy with bread, or as a side dish. Let me know how you like it by commenting below.