The National Dish
In conjunction with Brendan Johnson’s “Weekly Roundup” of international news, I’ll select a country from his weekly post, and cook a common meal from that country. It’s an interesting way both to explore culinary traditions in other countries and to learn more about their history and culture in general. I am not a trained chef, and I do make mistakes. My goal is to try and give you the best recipe and advice based on my missteps. This is “The National Dish.”
This week’s randomly chosen country is the Netherlands. It was a cold, rainy fall day in East Lansing yesterday and after some research it seemed like Dutch “stamppot” was the perfect hearty winter comfort food to warm me up. It is an interesting choice for me, as my last name is etymologically Dutch, but I have never had the opportunity to interact with family from my (quarter) Dutch heritage, so this was a cool opportunity to see what a homestyle Dutch meal is like.
Stamppot, which is essentially a veggie mash, does a fairly good job of displaying the characteristics of traditional Dutch cuisine. That is to say it’s simple, heavy on seasonal vegetables, and uses dairy products. Traditional Dutch cuisine is the product of laborers’ diets through the last few centuries, shaped by farming, animal domestication, and fishing. Dutch dinners specifically, are defined by the acronym AVG, aardappelen (potatoes), vlees (meat), and groente (vegetables). The stamppot recipe below, more accurately known as “Boerenkoolstamppot,” follows this acronym to a T.
Boerenkoolstamppot, a word I absolutely cannot pronounce, is best translated into English as Kale with Mashed Potatoes. In my mind, however, this rather dull translation does not seem to do the dish justice. It is far tastier than the name would let on. The main ingredients involved are, of course, kale and potatoes, but also include sautéed onions, butter, and indeed whatever additional root vegetables you choose to include. Making this dish is super straightforward, and is done mostly in one large pot. The dish is served traditionally with rookworst, a type of spicy, smoked Dutch sausage, mustard and gravy, which is traditionally served inside a hole you make in the stamppot. (If you’re not into Kale- or similar leafy greens — you could also look into “hutspot” which is a variation on stamppot that replaces the kale with carrots).
My recipe below is a combination of several variations I found online (my favorites being this more traditional one and this). I have opted to include a few extra root veggies in my recipe, but feel free to replace them as you see fit. My biggest problem in making this is one I am certain you, dear Case in Pointe reader, will face is trying to find Dutch rookworst. I have come to the conclusion finding rookworst in the USA is more difficult than putting a man on Mars. But fear not! Alternatives abound. I myself ended up using kielbasa, but you could also try knackwurst, chorizo, or any other smoked sausage you see fit. Also, in more traditional boerenkoolstamppot, the whole rookworst is placed inside the pot along with the kale and root veggies. I have opted to slice my sausage and cook it separately in a pan to collect the sausage juices for use in a gravy. Enjoy!
Boerenkoolstamppot with Rookworst Recipe:
Time to make: 1.5–2 hours.
Ingredients for Boerenkoolstamppot:
1 sweet potato
1 large bunch of kale
1 large onion, or 2 medium sized onions
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped (this is optional, but is a game changer for the flavor of this dish)
1.5–2 pounds of Dutch rookworst (substitute with Kielbasa, or similar smoked, spiced sausage)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (substitute with lard)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (substitute with distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar)
1–2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. stone ground or Dijon mustard (optional)
1/8–1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
beef stock or water as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for Pan Gravy/Sauce (optional):
1.5 cup of water or unsalted beef stock
3 tbsp butter
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (substitute with distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar)
2–3 tbsp. flour
pan drippings from cooking your sausage
salt and pepper to taste
Make the Boerenkoolstamppot:
- Peel and dice the potatoes, parsnips, the sweet potato and the turnip, into 1.5–2 inch chunks and place into a large stock pot.
- Fill the pot with water or beef stock (or a combination thereof) until the veggies are just covered (do not fill up any further than this)
- Chop up the kale into medium sized chunks and place on top of the veggies in the pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water inside to a boil (you should be able to hear this happen if you can’t see the water beneath the kale), and turn down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While the veggies are cooking, dice your onions (small dice), and slice the sausage into thin slices.
- Get a separate pan, set heat to medium, and add your olive oil (you could also use butter for this if you chose). Sautee the onions until translucent. Remove onions from the pan.
- In the same pan, adding more olive oil if needed, take your sliced sausage and cook each side until both are nicely browned (about 5 minutes). Remove the sausage with tongs, and reserve the pan juices if making gravy.
- At this point your veggies are likely done. Turn the heat off from the large pot, and carefully pour the cooking water/stock out into a separate bowl and reserve. Add the onions. Using a potato masher (if you don’t have one, consider using a sturdy whisk or large slotted spoon), roughly mash the veggies together until everything is well incorporated (how chunky you want it to be is up to you).
- Add the unsalted butter, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste (this will take some back and forth until you think it’s right, I probably added several teaspoons of salt before I was satisfied with the results).
- (optional) Add chopped parsley on top of the mash when serving, or incorporate the parsley into the mash while it’s still in the pot.
Making the Pan Gravy:
- Once the mash is complete throw the lid on top to keep it from cooling off while you make the gravy.
- Take the pan used to make the sausage/onions to medium heat and add butter. Whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook the roux until it begins browning (stirring frequently to prevent burning).
- Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, and then add the pan juices and water, stirring to incorporate.
- Increase heat to medium-high, cooking until gravy has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the stamppot adding chopped parsley on top of each serving, with your sausage on the side. If adding gravy, pour over the sausage, or alternatively make a well in the mash using a spoon and pour a small amount into that. The sausage could also be served with mustard, if you so choose. This is really a super simple dish. I found a nice warm mug of apple cider was a great compliment to it.
Smakelijk eten! Eet Smakelijk!