Polish Hunter’s Stew (Bigos) is a hearty, smoky stew filled with chicken, sausage, bacon and loads of vegetables. Makes a large batch and is great reheated.
Way back in January 2014, Hunter’s Stew was one of the very first recipes I ever published. Here we are, almost 3 years later, and things have come a long way. I definitely hesitated even adding a link to that post because it’s pretty embarrassing. I cringe now when I see the quantity of horrible pictures included in that post. But I didn’t delete it, and I added the link because I always enjoy seeing how bloggers evolve, and I want you to see how I’ve evolved too.
Another reason I’ve decided to keep the original post is that I’ve changed the recipe slightly over the years. Let me give you a brief history of the role of Hunter’s Stew in my house. My husband and I first tried it in a small Eastern European cafe in small town British Columbia on our way home from our honeymoon, way back in 2010. When we returned home, I immediately found a recipe, and started cooking it myself. I initially made it in the traditional way – with pork, and pork based bacon and sausage. However, one time I didn’t have any pork in the freezer so I used chicken thighs instead – I didn’t notice any compromises to the quality. Because cutting back on red meat is an important dietary goal to me, I have made it with chicken ever since, and to further reduce fat and calories, I use turkey or chicken based sausage too. The Hunter’s Stew is still as rich and smoky as ever – perhaps even more so because I started using smoked paprika in addition to regular sweet paprika.
Please don’t let the long ingredient list and long cooking time prevent you from making this stew. Yes, it’s a bit of a cooking time investment. But make it on a weekend, and you will be reheating it throughout the week. Trust me, it’s worth it. I have made it countless times for my family (my super picky kids even love it), extended family and friends, and everyone raves about it every time!
- 4 slices turkey bacon
- 1 ring chicken or turkey kielbasa sausage, cut in half and sliced into 1/2 inch half moons
- 1 pound chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 pieces
- 1/2 medium green cabbage, shredded
- 16 ounces sauerkraut, drained
- 2 tablespoons canned tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (or 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar)
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
Heat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon and sausage in an oven safe dutch oven over medium high heat until browned. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Add chicken thighs to dutch oven and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon and sausage.
Add garlic, onion, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and sauerkraut to the dutch oven and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, smoked paprika, paprika, basil, marjoram, salt, pepper, caraway, and cayenne. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Slowly pour in red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the dutch oven.
Stir in the chicken broth and diced tomatoes, then add back the bacon, sausage and pork. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2.5-3 hours.
New and Improved Polish Hunter’s Stew Nutrition Notes:
Polish Hunter’s Stew is traditionally made with regular (pork) bacon and sausage, as well as cubed pork instead of chicken thighs. You can definitely use those, but the resulting fat and calories will be higher. I found that by using chicken, I was able to slightly cut down on fat (as well as reduce my family’s red meat intake) without compromising the flavor of the stew.