It all started with a hunk of meat. Boczek to be precise. How my dear grandmother came to possess this roasted Polish bacon, I’m not quite sure. But she had, and was offering it to me. Never one to turn down food, I thought this could be a good opportunity to make something of it and then return the gesture by presenting the old girl some of the resulting dish.
So what to do with this Boczek? Naturally I wanted to do it justice, so I turned to my Polish colleagues at work for advice. The answer was pretty immediate: Bigos. This classic Polish dish is guaranteed to see you through any winter, not matter how baltic it gets. I also got the sauerkraut and kielbasa sausages from the excellent Polish store on Elm Grove; Fajny Sklep. If you haven’t been in there you should, it’s a real treasure trove of eastern european food and grog. Massive props to the wonderfully kind woman behind the meat counter, who walked me through all the different types of kielbasa for my bigos. Like boeuf bourguignon, this is also a dish that benefits from being started early and left overnight to really get the flavours to lock in.
2 med onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 jar / bag sauerkraut
1 can peeled chopped tomatoes
1 half white cabbage
250g smoked sausage (kielbasa)
400g roasted bacon (boczek)
300ml strong beef stock
glass of apple juice
2 tb of flour
salt and pepper
Thickly dice the pork belly, boczek and kielbasa and brown in separate batches in a heavy stewing pot. Remove with a slotted spoon and add butter to fry the onions until golden
Rinse the sauerkraut in cold water and drain well, and mix with the onions. Add the tomatoes and apple juice. Shred the cabbage finely and mix in, add the stock stirring well.
Return the meats to the pot and allow to simmer on a low heat for one hour, or whack in the oven on a low heat if you need to go for a nap (I did). Season to taste. Remove from heat and leave covered for 24 hours. Refrigerate and reheat before serving with either mashed potatoes or crusty bread.
EDIT: I bought some in for Kamila’s lunch at work, her verdict? “Really good! You wouldn’t think it was cooked by someone English.” Great success!