"Far be it for anyone to contradict the Pope's chef—but John Lickiewicz did just that." So began an article on the chef of the Sir Nicholas that appeared in the January 27, 1979 edition of the Globe and Mail. The article was prompted by a claim by Tadeusz Podbereski, the proprietor of the only Polish restaurant in Mexico, that it took three days and eight kinds of meat to prepare a batch of bigos (hunter’s stew) for Pope John Paul II the night before. Lickiewicz felt that Podbereski had put too much effort into the Pope’s meal (“I don’t know why it took him three days to cook. What for?”), as bigos could easily be made in a few hours.
Here is Lickiewicz’s recipe for bigos, intended to feed six:
Chop up 3 pounds of fresh cabbage and place in a four-inch baking dish. Cover and put in the over for 40 minutes at 300 degrees.
Remove from the oven and mix with 1½ pounds of sauerkraut, 1½ pounds of sliced Polish sausage and ¼ pound of ham cut into quarter-inch squares. Add two soupspoons of chicken base and return to oven for 40 minutes at same temperature.
While the mixture is cooking, cut ½ pound of bacon into slices and mix with one pound of sliced onions, one soup-spoonful of lard and 2 soupspoons of paprika. Fry until the onions are brown, slowly adding 3 tablespoons of flour while frying.
Stir the cabbage and the bacon mixture together and place in the over at 300 degrees for 10 minutes—“or until it looks done.”
A serving of bigos at Sir Nicholas was accompanied by a side of rice, potatoes, or toasted buckwheat. Though the short prep time produced a dish Lickiewicz was proud of, he admitted bigos tasted better if you left it alone for three days before serving.