Bigos (Or, Cabbage and Pork, Part I)

bigos
The Poles know how to do their pork and cabbage right. I’m totally sold on bigos, a Polish hunter’s stew based on either cabbage or sauerkraut and as many kinds of pork as you can get your hands on. My version hit the pork trifecta: bacon, sausage, and pork shoulder (in the form of pork steak). Just throw it all in the crockpot and you’ve got enough for a week.

This is less a “recipe” than a conglomeration of internet advice, including surprisingly good cooking instructions from Wikipedia. Is there anything Wikipedia can’t answer?

Crockpot Bigos

bigos-ingredients1 head cabbage, shredded
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot (or more, if you have them), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb pork steaks, cut into chunks
1 lb hot sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, as you see fit

1) Fry the bacon for a few minutes. Don’t cook it until it’s done; you just want to release enough fat to saute the onions. Then saute the onions and garlic just until the onions are translucent. Transfer to a crockpot.

2) Add the following, in order, to the crockpot: carrot, cabbage, remaining meat and cabbage. Tuck the bay leaf in there somewhere.

3) Cook on high 6-8 hours. You’ll need to stir it a few times to work the cabbage down.

Serve with potatoes (gluten free!) or egg noodles (not gluten free).

Lessons Learned…

bigos-raw-in-crock
It’s not entirely clear that it was appropriate to put this much food in the crockpot. That’s a whole lot of raw meat up there, just sitting there while the slow cooker heats up. This is why I used high: I got scared. But then, because I didn’t trust it, I opened the lid several times to try to stir in the meats, which sort of defeats the purpose of the crockpot. If you’re working with a similarly sized crockpot and cabbage, you might want to saute the cabbage a bit, just so that it fits more easily into the crockpot. In the end, no one got food poisoning and it tasted fantastic, but if I were to make this again I’d probably dump it all in my giant pressure cooker, add a couple of cups of water, and cook it at pressure 12 minutes or so. I bet it’s just as delicious, and certainly not as worrisome.

The other lesson is more reassuring. Note that I did not brown the sausage or the pork shoulder, and it still tasted great. Save yourself the trouble and just toss it in.

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2 comments to Bigos (Or, Cabbage and Pork, Part I)

  • [...] 25, 2009 by dorisandjilly Y’all know I love my cabbage and pork. Once again, the picture doesn’t really do this meal justice. Imagine succulent cabbage [...]

  • Romanian Mom

    I have 2 kids adopted from Romania in the 1990s. As my kids were growing up, I made a similar recipe that we called “Romanian Food” — except use LOTS of garlic and slightly crushed carraway seeds, and add the potaoes to the crockpot. Serve in large bowls with a dollop of sour cream and crusty french baguettes. Delish!

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