This is a late Christmas-themed post, but if you’ve been reading this blog you must have come to the conclusion that I am not much about traditions or following culinary rules. I figured that if people still have not taken down their Christmas decorations and by the looks of it some haven’t, writing about Christmas food is also allowed 😉 So here goes the little tradition that I still have left in me, namely my most favorite Christmas dish from my childhood – Bigos.
Growing up this dish would most certainly appear during Christmas holidays, but occasionally my mom would make it outside of the holiday season. I guess deep down she did not care for staying true to the rules, either. Whatever the case, Bigos is a type of a cabbage stew and would be eaten with a slice of bread that you would use for dipping in it or as a side with a hearty serving of potatoes, less likely with rice or pasta, but a starch of some sort would be necessary, because according to mom you needed a filler to keep you full for longer. Little did she know that starch would make you want to go for seconds and maybe even thirds.
Today I serve this stew – which on its own is perfectly ketogenic and only becomes unsuitable when potatoes are added – with a bed of spiralized zucchini or with my mashed cauliflower. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like adding a side I just scoop some of it in the bowl, reheat it and eat it just as is.
The recipe for this dish, like most of my recipes is full-proof and requires absolutely no culinary skills whatsoever. Following the instructions is the only requirement to end up with a successful, yummy dish. And even then, there is not much that can go wrong with this one. Have a look yourself.
- 1 head of White Cabbage
- 1 jar of Sauerkraut
- 1 can of unsweetened Tomato Paste
- 1 package of fried Herb and Garlic Sausages by Jamie Oliver
- 1 Pork Tenderloin Roast
- 2 slices of cooked Pork Belly (optional but preferable)
- 2 carmelized Onions
- 5-6 fried Mushrooms
- 4 Bay Leaves
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Season your Pork Tenderloin Roast with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and slightly brown it in a frying pan with some coconut oil. It does not have to cook through as it will do so later with the rest of the ingredients.
- Put lightly browned Pork Roast at the bottom of a large pot - I can't stress enough that you should use the largest pot you've got.
- Next, chop your cabbage and layer it together with the Sauerkraut on top of the Roast.
- Add already prepared Mushrooms and Onions.
- Add already fried and sliced Sausages to the pot.
- Add cooked and chopped Pork Belly.
- Add Salt, Pepper, Bay Leaves and cover with water - about ¾th of the pot.
- Cook on medium heat until cabbage softens and you notice the volume has decreased somewhat in the pot.
- Stir occasionally to integrate the ingredients. As the dish cooks you will find that the meat on the bottom of the pot starts breaking off - that's a good thing, you want pieces of the pork integrated in the dish so that each bite gives you a bit of everything.
- When cabbage is fully cooked add a small can of unsweetened tomato paste and mix well.
- Cook for another 30 minutes.
Note 2: You do not need to use Jamie Oliver's sausages if you can't find them or have other reasons not to support the celebrity. The reason why I use them is because that's the only sausages that I could avail of that are not full of sugar and breadcrumbs out where I live. I kid you not, every other package that I have picked up in the last couple of months has been laden with extra fillers. I tried one package that contained the minimum of stuff in it and even then I just couldn't stomach it - the sausages no longer tasted like meat, they tasted like greasy bread. So if you have a butcher that can prepare you something of quality, go for it, otherwise I found those to fit the bill.
Note 3: Pork Belly Slices vs. Bacon - while eating LCHF diet people will often indulge heavily in Bacon. In fact, if you follow any discussion groups online you will see people displaying pictures of their meals featuring bacon in all its glory. I'm not opposed to bacon per se, my beef with bacon is that it's cured with sugar. Granted when you look at the nutritional value, the carbohydrate content does not seem very high at only 1-5g per serving - but when you are eating a LCHF diet and you're aiming at maybe consuming 20g of carbs a day, those 5g all of a sudden become problematic because it's ¼th of your allotted carb intake. And on top of that it's the worst possible type of carb - blood glucose spiking type. When I eat meat, I want to be eating protein and fat, not sugar. So, the easiest way to go about avoiding it is to buy fresh Pork Belly slices instead of cured bacon. Unless of course you can find naturally cured bacon with no sugar, then go for it. Otherwise, I find fresh Pork Belly will add the oomph I'm looking for from bacon.
Traditions aside, this meal is a must in your arsenal of meals on days during a busy work week when you have very little time to cook. You basically throw all the ingredients in a pot during the weekend and it literally cooks itself with only an occasional stir. You put it in the fridge or even freeze a portion of it for another time and if you are in the pickle during the week reheat it, add a side vegetable such as zucchini noodles (or not), some cubed avocado for added healthy fats and you have yourself a quick supper – no mess, no fuss – 10 minutes flat. Enjoy!