Bigos – Polish Hunter’s Stew (Vegetarian Version)

Polish Sauerkraut with mushrooms and sausage


  • 1200g drained and chopped sour, fermented cabbage / sauerkraut (2 x 900 ml jars)
  • 400g smoked prunes, regular prunes are good as well (chopped, cut in halves)
  • 2-3 handfuls of dried wild mushrooms (crushed)
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 3-4 large cooking apples (cubed roughly)
  • 6 cups water (1½ litre)
  • 4 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs rainbow peppercorns (whole) or 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp juniper berries and 1 tsp allspice / pimento peppercorns
  • sea salt to taste – optional
  • caster sugar to taste – optional

Polish sour cabbage stew


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook covered over medium fire for about an hour stirring from time to time.
  2. There should be no more water, cabbage on the bottom should be even burning a little bit and prunes and apples should be very soft and falling apart.
  3. Season to taste with sugar and salt if necessary.

Make about 18-20 portions as a side dish or as a snack.


Taste good served with fresh bread and butter or as a side dish to meat.
This dish taste even better next day, reheated.
Bigos is traditional Polish dish served for instance during Christmas.
Mushrooms can be replaced with 2 large (10g each) mushroom cubes.
If apples and prunes are sweet you may skip the sugar.
Wild mushroom can be replaced with some other strong tasting, earthy mushrooms such as chestnut mushrooms, about 300g (sliced).
If cabbage is very sour rinse it and drain it before cooking.
Originally bigos is made with addition of cubed sausage.

Your thoughts…

  1. Is the “sour/fermented cabbage” Sauerkraut? It sounds interesting. I don’t think I have ever had prunes cooked in a dish before (just plain).

  2. Yes, Kevin! :)
    Sauerkraut means in German sour cabbage.
    I will add this name to the recipe.

  3. Well, it’s a light, vegetarian version. Traditional version requires several types of meat starting with at least 2 difrent types of venison (like boar & deer), some bird meat like chicken, goose or duck & some sausages… It was (well, still is) a traditional dish on any hunting, there for it was full of calories. With time it became traditional Polish dish served for instance during Christmas Eve – just like Margot said. But Margot – you forgot about 3 important things. 1. You should add a glass of dry red wine. 2. This dish is best when it was frozen, than cooked again. 3. It’s best when it was cooked at least 3 times, which usually means 3 days. That’s why in most of polish families it’s cooked with 1 up to 3 kg. of sauerkraut. It may be frozen for several months even & still will be good (or even better)
    O.K. that’s enough of beeing smart-arse for one day :P

  4. Voidan,
    Thank you for your comment :D
    Yes, that is true, this bigos is vegetarian version, but I did not know that you have to use different types of meat, my mother was putting chopped sausages in it. I had to miss the part with white wine as well, or maybe she has never used to use it…. But I mentioned that bigos is better next day, reheated… Unfortunately when you make it from 600g sauerkraut it does not last 3 days to taste really good… :( Next time I will buy 6 jars of sauerkraut (I can’t find sauerkraut from the barrel here in London)…. and will freeze it ;)

  5. Ups – I overlooked that part about reheating – sorry!
    Since it’s more and more polish shops in London it should be easier to buy some polish stuff like sauerkraut. Guess you just still need to wait until it show up in barrels… Or you may make it by your self. Just add that water from jar of sauerkraut to chopped cabbage (that water will contain fermentative bacterias youu need). Barrel of chopped cabage :P
    Same way you can make Kim Chi or Paocai – koreanese or chinese versions of picled vegies. I just love Kim Chi & going to make it probably next week :}

    About diffrent types of meat – it true that traditional, orthodox version requires difrent types of venison and all other types of meat. But it’s rather hard to get venison those days (not to mention prices). In my home we’re usually preparing it with pork, beef and turkey meat + some chopped sausages. Sometimes some of my friends add frankfurters (parówki) too. And (ATENTION!) wine must be red, not white. Red & dry. I heard that people are using even few shots of pure vodka, but I didn’t tryied it yet…

    By the way: you are using juniper berrys? 3 up to 5 are really good for bigos!

  6. Voidan,
    I won’t be making sauerkraut at home because my better half hates scent of it… he would move out if I would start making my own sour cabbage :D
    I could not fish junier berrys as well…. maybe next time, I will be better prepared ;)

  7. What a unique recipe. It sounds so homey and warm. I haven’t had sauerkraut in many years and may have to rectify that soon :)

  8. Just wanted to mention, that Bigos is never served at Christmas Eve dinner in Poland- unless it was a vegetarian one. Christmas Eve dinner is always vegeterian+fish.

  9. Yes, you are right. It was served in my house as it was always vegetarian version… I will correct it, thank you for noticing it.

  10. steve repa says:

    We served the veggie version withn split pea soup, or a can of pork and beans, and diced tomatoes, or just adding barley… love the dish!

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