From Polish Country House Kitchen's Hunter's Stew (Bigos)


[Photograph: Bogdan Bialy]

Bigos, or traditional Polish Hunter's Stew, is one of those homey recipes that changes from home to home. In fact, in From A Polish Country House Kitchen, Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden describe the stew as Poland's version of chili—long stewed meat with a suggestion of vegetable served with thick rustic bread. Their take blends pork, venison, beef, veal, and sausage with cabbage, sauerkraut, and mushrooms for a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, hearty meal for the meatiest of meat lovers. In other words, it's an awesome addition to your late winter repertoire.

Why I picked this recipe: I have never simmered sauerkraut in a meat stew, and what better way to try it than the meatiest of meat stews?

What worked: The tanginess of the sauerkraut and sweetness of the prunes marries effortlessly with the tender meats.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: The choice in meat is truly up to you. Don't feel comfortable cooking veal? Use pork. Can't find venison? Substitute any slightly gamey meat, like lamb.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of From a Polish Country House Kitchen to give away this week.