Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sauerkraut with Mushrooms and Figs Stew - Bigos. Can you dig it?

Sauerkraut with Mushrooms and Figs Stew, also known as Bigos
This year I celebrate the holidays without a Christmas tree. It was not intentional, it just happened that way. Don't feel badly for me. I have this little green wonder to keep me happy - see below.

I am green and...real - that's most important,
said the tiny Christmas tree. 
Now onto the recipe. I have been thinking about making my own version of a popular Polish dish called Bigos or Hunter's Stew.

Most traditional recipes call for uncanny ingredients to us vegans, while others are even vegetarian or accidentally vegan. Typically, dried fruits such as prunes  - [did they change the name back to dried plums recently?] - are also used. I have decided to go with dried figs instead.

Cheers to being salty!

Sauerkraut with Mushrooms and Figs Stew
Please note this recipe requires 4-5 hours of cooking time. Yikes!

2 (32-oz bags) sauerkraut, do not drain ( I used this brand)
1 large carrot (about 1 cup), peeled and shredded
1 large bay leaf
1/2 cup to 1 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted ( I used Bay Bolete dried mushrooms)
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried figs, stems removed and chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (add at the end)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large pot, add the sauerkraut with juices, along with the shredded carrot and bay leaf. Cover, and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 4-5 hours (I am not kidding!), stir occasionally.

In the meantime, prepare the mushrooms. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl, and cover them completely with boiling water. I used about 1 cup if not more. Allow to sit and reconstitute for at least 2 hours. Do not drain! You will need the mushroom liquid later.

One to two hours before the stew is ready, add the mushrooms along with their liquid, chopped figs and freshly ground pepper to the pot with the sauerkraut. Stir and continue cooking until the water has almost completely evaporated and the sauerkraut has turned brown/orange color.

In case the liquid is not evaporating quickly enough, uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium-low. Conversely, if there is no liquid remaining before the stew is ready, add water gradually as needed.

Turn off the heat and add olive oil. Stir, and add more pepper if necessary. Do not add salt unless you want to. The stew should be salty enough.

Serve with favorite crusty bread or mashed potatoes. You can add vegan sour cream as well. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. The stew tastes better the next day.

To decrease the sodium content, replace the sauerkraut liquid with equal amounts of water or low-sodium vegetable broth. The stew gets most of its flavor from the sauerkraut liquid and the mushrooms. However, if you choose to take the alternate route, be sure to let me know how it turns out. Much obliged. Peace out!

Salty ;) 

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