Playing With My Food ~
A journal about food, thought, travel, and life; by Chef & Raconteur Chaz French.


As I mentioned this new job allows me a lot of creative control within a few parameters, one of those is that on Friday I cook from whatever culture the kids are studying that week; last week it was Poland and after talking to a friend and doing some research I decided for time’s sake to go with Bigos, Mashed Potatoes, Sauerkraut and Rye bread.

Bigos is…. Well here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

“Bigos (Polish pronunciation: [ˈbiɡɔs]), known as a Hunter’s Stew, is a traditional meat stew typical of Polish, Lithuanian, and Belarusian cuisines, considered to be the Polish national dish.[1][2]

There is no single recipe for a savoury stew of cabbage and meat, as recipes vary considerably from region to region and from family to family. Typical ingredients include white cabbage, sauerkraut (kapusta kiszona in Polish), various cuts of meat and sausages, often whole or puréed tomatoes, honey and mushrooms. The meats may include pork (often smoked), ham, bacon, beef, veal, sausage, and, as bigos is considered a real hunters’ stew, venison or other game; leftover cuts find their way into the pot as well. It may be seasoned with pepper, caraway, juniper berries, bay leaf, marjoram, pimento, dried or smoked plums and other ingredients.

Bigos is usually eaten with rye bread and potatoes.”

I made mine with pastured beef, cabbage, tomato sauce, carrots, veg stock and flavored it with caraway, dill,  and green onion.  Recipe?  Didn’t use one.  Also didn’t have four hours to stew meat, so I busted out the pressure cooker.

Into the pressure cooker went 16oz of veg stock, 1 carrot (broken in two), 2 green onions (whole), a few fronds of dill and some caraway seeds.  Started heating that up while I dredged the beef in flour and browned it in a pan. then added it to the pressure coooker, sealed the lid on, cranked the heat and when it got to pressure, reduced heat to the minimum to keep it at pressure for 20 minutes.  Release pressure (I had 5lbs or so of meat which was more than  my cooker could do in one batch, so I repeated this).

Into an eight quart dutch oven went a quart of leftover tomato sauce (from pasta the day before), a head of shredded green cabbage (3lbs or so), the meat, all the juice (strained) from the pressure cooker, none of the solids (other than beef) some more caraway and dill and cooked it over a low heat for another 90 minutes, adding a pound of sliced carrots half-way through, along with a 28oz can of diced tomatoes in juice.  Salt Pepper, Paprika, other seasonings to taste, and serve.

Authentic?  I have no clue.  I went with the description from wikipedia, and cooked some tasty stew.

This coming week, still working on the menu… Friday is Russia though.