My mom, like many women in Poland, made bigos—a stew of pork shoulder, bacon, kielbasa, and sauerkraut—for every celebration. I came to the States when I was 20. During the day I cleaned people’s houses; at night, I went to school. I never had time to cook, much less make bigos. Though it’s easy to prepare, it takes hours for the flavors to develop. Nowadays I’m still too busy to make it, but Kazia, my sister, makes massive quantities, then freezes it. When people come to visit her, she heats it up and tells them, “Look, I made bigos just for you!” —Halina Pinas, Saveur accountant
- 1⁄4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. smoked kielbasa, cut into 1″ rounds
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 4 lb. sauerkraut, drained
- 2 oz. pitted prunes, chopped
- 6 cups beef stock
- 1⁄2 cup madeira wine
- 2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- Minced chives, to garnish
- Place mushrooms in a bowl; cover with 1 1⁄2 cups boiling water. Let sit until mushrooms rehydrate, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a cutting board; roughly chop and set aside. Slowly pour soaking liquid into another bowl, leaving any sediment in the bottom of the first bowl; set aside.
- Heat bacon in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium heat; cook until its fat renders, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high; working in batches, season pork with salt and pepper. Add to pot; cook, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate with bacon. Add kielbasa; cook until browned, about 6 minutes; transfer to plate.
- Add caraway, allspice, onions, and bay leaves; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sauerkraut, and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Return meat to pot along with reserved mushrooms and their soaking liquid, and then add prunes, stock, and wine; bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add apples, and cook, covered, until pork is tender, about 30 minutes more; garnish with chives.