The King of the Stews

Monday 18/9/2005


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Diary and Notes

And lo, the lord said unto them, "I have shown you the recipe and it is good." And the people tasted that it was good and did travel into the lands of the world to spread the knowledge, for it truly was 'The King of the Stews.'

No whittering today, just a description of how to make one of my favourite dishes from every dish on the planet. I've mentioned this all time classic a few times and said I'd make some and now I have. Bigos, or Polish hunter's stew. It really is worth bubbling some of this up if you have a few days notice, a good deli nearby and an army of hungry people to feed.

A note on the tradition of this fantactis dish;

Bigos wasn't originally eaten by the general populace of Poland but the nobility. It was only made on hunting trips which were going to last for a few days. The men would take some sausage and vegetables with them into the woods and boil them up in a big pot. This would then be eaten, but not all of it, as they would make a really big pot, a giant cauldron of stew. When they went hunting, whatever they caught would then go in the pot as well and another cooking session would follow. After several days and several hunting trips later, the stew would take on a flavour quite unlike anything else - only then the real joy of the bigos would become apparent.

If you ever see a recipe for bigos it might mention that the dish is best made the day before, this is a massive understantement. The dish is best made three or four days before and every day something else added and boiled up for an hour or two (this kills any bacteria and stops it going off).

I would also recommend using a selection of Polish sausages, both smoked and unsmoked, garlic flavoured and not garlic flavoured. My favourite sausages are Wiejska, which is really meaty, Krakowska, a dry subtle flavoured sausage that can withstand a few days of hard simmering, and of course Mysliwska, which is hunter's sausage and is the best thing for bigos there is.

To make the dish, fry up the onions/garlic for a bit, chuck everything in the pot and stew it together as long as you can.

If you don't have dried plums, some apple is good. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms before you add them. Don't put too much caraway, bay or juniper in as the stew will be plenty flavoursome anyway.

And don't ignore any bones that are lying around - add them as well, there's no use wasting good flavour.

My bigos didn't have nearly as long a cooking as I'd have liked - I started it on Saturday. Even so it was a fine dish indeed, quite made me feel like a prince.

Serve with buttered Polish black bread and some boiled potatoes.

Cake Blog

Eyemouth tart: My house-chums went to the Lake District and brought this back from the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding Company. They have other treats too which will be eaten tomorrow and the day after. This was quite good but had a little too much peel for my liking.


  • Bigos
  • Boiled Potatoes
  • Polish Black Bread


    Various Chunks of Meat (Pork, Beef, Venison, Wild Boar...)
    Polish Sausage
    Smoked Ham
    Dried Prunes
    Dried Porcini Mushrooms
    Bay Leaves
    Juniper Berries
    Caraway Seeds
    Black Peppercorns