I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask ten random people in the Netherlands what the Dutch national dish is, at least nine of them would answer ‘boerenkool met worst’. A good second would be ‘hutspot’ or ‘andijviestamppot’.
These people would probably be wrong, because I have a strong suspicion that chips and take-away pizza are in first position, but we like to believe these things.
If you are not from the Netherlands you are probably wondering what on earth I’m on about. Let me explain.
‘Stamppotten’ form a large part of traditional Dutch cuisine. A stamppot in its most basic form is any vegetable, mashed with boiled potatoes. The potatoes and vegetables are cooked in one pan, the veg usually on top of the potatoes so it is steamed rather than boiled. You then drain the contents of the pan, season well and mash (‘stampen’, hence ‘stamppot’) it all up with milk or butter, although I am sure a flavourless oil would work too. I am going out on a limb here but I think it’s safe to say that boerenkoolstamppot (kale and potato mash) and hutspot (carrot and potato) are the most popular stamppotten, with boerenkool being the best-known, and my personal favourite. But the sky is the limit: you can use endives, sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and even shredded lettuce to make stamppot.
A stamppot is traditionally served with meat, usually a (smoked) sausage, but in itself it is a vegetarian dish. I’ve added ‘bacon’ bits here but any vegetarian meat sub would do, and gherkins on the side are a must. It may sound like a strange combination but trust me, it works.
Now, vinegar. I think boerenkoolstamppot needs vinegar, or mustard, because it brings out the slightly tangy flavour of the kale. My Eastender doesn’t agree, however (never mind that I made it countless times WITH vinegar before he saw me put it in one time, and never mind that he has no qualms about ruining perfectly good chips with vinegar). You can add the vinegar later, on your own plate, but ideally you would add it when you mash the potatoes and veg.
One last thing, the all-important ‘kuiltje voor de jus’, or hole for the gravy. Now you could of course simply drizzle gravy over your finished stamppot, but you’d be doing it all wrong. 😉 The Dutch make a hole in the middle of the stamppot and pour the gravy in. This used to be the best bit of eating stamppot as a child because I got to ‘pierce the dykes’ to let the gravy run out (see what living below sea level does to people?)
300 g kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped finely (Cleaned weight. I cheat and buy ready-chopped kale)
600 g potato, peeled and halved, if necessary
175/200 ml hot milk (I use the microwave on high)
pepper and salt
splash of white wine vinegar or 1 tsp of mustard (optional but recommended)
150 g vegetarian bacon strips
gravy powder or granules (I use Bisto beef gravy, would you believe it’s vegan?)
– Put the potatoes in a large pan and add enough water to just cover them.
– Lay the kale on top of the potatoes (see why you need a big pan?).
– Bring to the boil, put the lid on the pan, and cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
– In the meantime, prepare whatever you’re having with the stamppot. I like vegetarian bacon with this.
– Drain the potatoes and veg, reserving enough cooking liquid to make your gravy with.
– Mash up the potatoes and kale, milk, seasoning, and vinegar or mustard, if using.
– Mix (don’t mash) through the ‘bacon’, if using.
– Serve the stamppot with the gherkins and the gravy in the ‘kuiltje’ or hole.