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If you’ve spent any time in Poland in the winter—or if you have Polish roots, relatives, or friends—you’ve probably enjoyed bigos, the “hunter’s stew” national dish that’s busy keeping millions of mouths and stomachs happy and warm at any given time.
This incredibly versatile dish is very easily veganized, without any loss of texture, flavor, or warmth. This year’s early arrival of winter sent us scrambling to buy sauerkraut, Tofurky kielbasa, and fresh-baked crusty European bread. Keep in mind that the variants below (traditional and slow-cooked) are only a suggested starting point: As every family has its own delicious recipe, don’t worry if you’re missing an ingredient or two (or want to add a few of your own).
Serves 4-6 depending on portion sizes.
1 package diced Tofurky kielbasa (preferred, but any vegan sausage will do)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 32-ounce jar sauerkraut
1 28-ounce can/jar of tomatoes/tomato sauce
1 large diced onion
3 cubes (or liquid teaspoons) vegan bullion
1 medium diced apple
4 cloves diced garlic (or 1 tablespoon garlic powder/granules)
1 cup water
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
 Using water and bullion, create 1 cup of triple-concentrated broth. Set aside.
 Lightly sautee diced kielbasa, garlic, and onion together until just brown. Set aside.
 Strain sauerkraut (a little liquid is fine) and dump into large pot. Over medium-high heat, slowly stir in sausage mixture and all other remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-70 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, and any other ingredients (including water, for a soupier dish) during periodic tastings. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Slow cooker: Lightly sautee diced kielbasa, garlic, and onion together until just brown. Mix together with remaining ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 2-3 hours (until flavors have combined and sausage is not yet mushy), stirring occasionally.
Enjoy with mashed potatoes and/or with your favorite crusty European bread. Bigos goes well with just about any beverage, including hot tea or cold beer. There’ll be plenty of leftovers for lunches in the coming week—they taste great cold or heated up!