April 13, 2006

Bigos

Raise your hand if boiling pot of sauerkraut on your stove for 3 days sounds fun. Only raise one hand because you'll need the other to plug your nose. Spike lived in Poland for two years and when he came back to the States he vowed never to live in eastern Europe again. In general, the people were impoverished, the weather foul and the food a disaster of epic proportions. At dinner one night, a well-intentioned host served Spike toast with cold horsemeat slapped on it with a raw egg cracked on top. Spike came back to the States looking like Kate Moss.

So you can imagine my hesitation when Spike emailed me a Polish recipe the other day with the request to cook it up for dinner. The dish is called bigos (pronounced bee-goes) and the main ingredients are cabbage, sauerkraut, plums, onions and polish sausage. In Poland, this is as basic as chicken soup and every family has their own way of mixing up the cabbage/meat concoction to best stinkify their homes. As unlikely as it sounds, it's delicious. I've been to a local Polish restaurant and ordered bigos and it was pure bliss in cabbage form. People go nuts over it. They say that you've just got to trust your host and ignore the smell because it tastes like all your Christmases come at once in your mouth. After reading some testimonials from bigos afficionados online, I mustered up enough courage to make it.

I scoured the stores yesterday for the necessary ingredients and this morning put the whole thing together. It is now bubbling on my stove as it will be for the next 3 days (they say it tastes best on the third day). I have all the windows open, the range-top fan on and candles burning, but the stink has taken over the apartment. Luckily I have eastern European ancestry and a few smelly family recipes of my own which have fortified me for this culinary experiment. I figure I can't lose. If it's good, then I'm a magnificent chef. It it's awful, who's surprised? The real victim in all of this is poor little Pixie. She's been staying back in her room all day with her face buried in her enormous stuffed dog pretending to sleep. I wonder if there is anything to "second hand sauerkraut" that will mess with her development and lead to her untimely demise.

There are infinite recipes for this stuff, most of which don't have any specific measurements but this is the one I'm using:

1 head white cabbage
2 jars sauerkraut (who knows what size)
3-4 large onions
1 kilo of kielbasa (Polish sausage)
4 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp plum jam
4-5 bay leaves

Chop or shred cabbage and mix in with sauerkraut and bay leaves with 2 jars of water and bring to a boil. Add fried onions and boil until liquid no longer pools in bottom of the pot. Add diced, fried sausage, jam, and tomato paste and let boil for one hour. For continued boiling, add water as necessary.

Only because I love you, Spike. This house stinks.

3 comments:

Silly Marie said...

So what is the main thing you taste? Is it sweet? Sour? Somewhere in between? It's an intruiging recipe.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, how'd it turn out? I'd give it a shot.

angela said...

it was much better than i thought it would be. i think it definitely tastes meatloaf-ish, but trent disagrees. i'll try to trust you more often when it comes to weird food . .. or if it really looks gross, i'll just have to take your word for it.