Bigos (Or, Cabbage and Pork, Part I)

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…

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!