I had lots of big meat in my freezer. I wanted something that cooked on the stove and was hearty and hot and good for eating in front of a BIG fireplace.
No, I mean REALLY big. This is it from the second floor
(Oh quit complaining, you just have to tilt your head a little).
So, BIG meat (3 kinds of pork product!) and BIG fireplace. Almost makes me feel like a caveman. Oh speaking of cavemen....
Parker and his girlfriend on Halloween. Ok ok, I know that was a cheap grandma shot.
So on with the Hunter stew and my food crush Hank...
I got this recipe on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. More and more I am heading over to Hank Shaw's website to find food that really interests me. I love the concept that he is foraging for what he is eating and coming up with options that I never even thought about. I hope that soon Hank will post about foraging in the frozen tundra of New England in the winter. Brrrrr. I can feel winter coming in my bones. Ok, enough drama.
At the same time as cooking Hunter Stew I was making peanut butter for a friend. I have posted this recipe before. It is the BEST peanut butter I have ever had. Even Dr. Food loved it and he hates peanut butter. The recipe is by my BFF Mitch Omer of the REAL Hells Kitchen Love you Mitch!
Oh and at the SAME time I was making Injera for the little ones next door. I am a good multi-tasker if I haven't been nipping at the wine.
Back to Hunter Stew! Lots of mushrooms. I love mushrooms. Big meat and mushrooms. There is also cabbage and sauerkraut in this dish. I also love these ingredients.
When it was sitting on the plate I stirred in some horseradish. Not the wimpy sauce stuff, the real deal. It was suggested and since it is another favorite of mine (No! not EVERYTHING is my favorite. Remember I hate chocolate) I took the suggestion.
Go make this recipe.
Polish Hunter’s Stew Recipe
by Hank Shaw posted on Simply Recipes
I used beer as the liquid, although lots of people use red wine. If you are making the tomato-based version, skip the beer and use the can of tomato sauce. If you cannot drink alcohol, use some beef stock. (NOTE: *I* did the beer version)
1 ounce dried porcini or other wild mushrooms
2 Tbsp bacon fat or vegetable oil
2 pounds pork shoulder
1 large onion, chopped
1 head cabbage (regular, not savoy or red), chopped
1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms
1-2 pounds kielbasa or other smoked sausage
1 smoked ham hock
1 pound fresh Polish sausage (optional)
1 25-ounce jar of fresh sauerkraut (we recommend Bubbies, which you may be able to find in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket)
1 bottle of pilsner or lager beer
1 Tbsp juniper berries (optional)
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
2 Tbsp dried marjoram
20 prunes, sliced in half (optional)
2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (optional)
1-2 Tbsp mustard or horseradish (optional)
1. Pour hot tap water over the dried mushrooms and submerge them for 20-40 minutes, or until soft. Grind or crush the juniper berries and black peppercorns roughly; you don’t want a powder. Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks, about 2 inches. Cut the sausages into similar-sized chunks. Drain the sauerkraut and set aside. Clean off any dirt from the mushrooms and cut them into large pieces; leave small ones whole.
2. Heat the bacon fat or vegetable oil in a large lidded pot for a minute or two. Working in batches if necessary, brown the pork shoulder over medium-high heat. Do not crowd the pan. Set the browned meat aside.
3. Put the onion and fresh cabbage into the pot and sauté for a few minutes, stirring often, until the cabbage is soft. Sprinkle a little salt over them. The vegetables will give off plenty of water, and when they do, use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. If you are making the tomato-based version, add the tomato paste here. Once the pot is clean and the cabbage and onions soft, remove from the pot and set aside with the pork shoulder.
4. Add the mushrooms and cook them without any additional oil, stirring often, until they release their water. Once they do, sprinkle a little salt on the mushrooms. When the water is nearly all gone, add back the pork shoulder, the cabbage-and-onion mixture, and then everything else except the prunes. Add the beer, if using, or the tomato sauce if you're making the tomato-based version. Stir well to combine.
5. You should not have enough liquid to submerge everything. That’s good: Bigos is a “dry” stew, and besides, the ingredients will give off more liquid as they cook. Bring everything to a simmer, cover the pot and cook gently for at least 2 hours.
6. Bigos is better the longer it cooks, but you can eat it once the ham hock falls apart. Check at 2 hours, and then every 30 minutes after that. When the hock is tender, fish it out and pull off the meat and fat from the bones Discard the bones and the fat, then chop the meat roughly and return to the pot. Add the prunes and cook until they are tender, at least 30 more minutes.
Bigos is best served simply, with rye bread and a beer. If you want a little kick, add the mustard or horseradish right before you eat it. Bigos improves with age, too, which is why this recipe makes so much: Your leftovers will be even better than the stew was on the first day.
Serves 10 to 12.