Netherlands – Boerenkool Stamppot
What’s cooking in the Netherlands?
Boerenkool Stamppot – Mashed Potato and Kale Stew
The Netherlands or Holland? Let’s get that matter out of the way before we start to talk food. The country’s name is the Netherlands, and there are two provinces called Holland (North and South Holland). The cloth on my photos says Holland, but that’s the part of the Netherlands that I am from 😊 so I am fine with that. This dish is however a traditional dish eaten in the whole of the Netherlands.
This is my own addition to the World Food series, Boerenkool Stamppot. I’ve eaten this all my life and it warmed me up in winter after ice skating on the lake in the forrest of Amsterdam. It seems a bit funny to tell you about me, as this blog has a whole section about me, but I still will as there’s more to tell. I come from a modest family and grew up just outside of Amsterdam. My grandparents come from families that were farmers. When I think of food when it comes to my family, I think of my grandmother, who made the most delicious cooked pears in wine and cinnamon you would ever have tasted. The smell and the taste of cooked pears still brings back the memories of my grandmother today! I also happen to be the proud owner of the exact same plates she gave me the pears on, and those plates you will see them quite often in this recipe series. Now that I write about her, and her cooking, I can still see her in front of her kitchen stove in the last years of her life, when she had gotten so small that it was getting quite difficult to reach to the pot and cook, and she needed help getting anything out of the kitchen cupboards which were too high up.
Dutch cooking gives me a warm feeling inside, but that hasn’t always been the case. I’ve turned my back on Boerenkool Stamppot for quite a few years actually, when people in the Netherlands switched from cooking these local dishes, to modern and worldlier cuisines. We started eating Italian pasta, and French Boeuf Bourguignon, which all seemed more elaborated and exquisite than our dishes. When I moved abroad, and when I had my own children to whom I would like to pass on my culture, my love for Dutch dishes came back! And so now I do cook Dutch meals often, mainly in winter, but I still don’t cook them when we have people coming over for dinner.
About the Dutch food culture:
The Netherlands is famous for its cheese and for the raw herring we eat by holding the fish by its tail high above our heads and then lowering the fish into our mouths. But there is more… Typically, Dutch children start their day eating bread with chocolate sprinkles, or any other candy like sprinkles, for breakfast. I was no exception, and neither are my children, even though they live in Switzerland. I stock up enough sprinkles to give them this breakfast every day before they go to school. They would not believe it if we would run out of them, and they would call their ‘Oma’ (grandmother) to send it to us by post!
Then, there are ‘bitterballen’, meat croquettes that the Dutch eat in a bar, while having a beer. I guess you could consider this our version of Tapas. My husband even remembers his first ever bitterbal, and knows exactly where he sat when he ate it. It is quite a surprise that this delicacy has not spread to be a ‘known dish’ worldwide. Then there are Stroopwafels… The most delicious cookies from the Netherlands. Those are on sale worldwide. They are waffles with a sort of caramel syrup inside. However, you need to know a Dutchie to be in the know of the fact that they taste even better when you warm them up on top of your cup of tea, which will make the waffle and the syrup soft and warm… In the Netherlands, you can buy these waffles on the market, warm from the stand. My place to go for them is on the famous Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam.
Green pea soup is also famous in the Netherlands, and my mother happens to be an excellent Green Pea Soup cook. Sometimes in winter when she is in Geneva, she makes it for the entire office and my co-workers happily see me arrive with bags with big pots of home-made soup.
And besides all this…. there are ‘stamppotten’ / Mashed pot or ‘stew’. Stamppot is a general term for a mashed stew of potatoes and basically one chosen vegetable. Endive-Stamppot, Brussels-sprouts-Stamppot, and a combination of Carrots-and-Onions-Stamppot which is called ‘Hutspot’. It is a wintry meal, even though real lovers now make a summer version with salad, but traditionally, it really is a winter meal.
I love it, and so do my children and my husband. Modern versions exist nowadays. I’ve heard of Stamppotten with an Italian twist, by adding dried tomatos and pine nuts on top. My father adds mustard in his Boerenkool Stamppot for more taste. All is possible. Sole condition is that you mash it all up, of course…
Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients for 4 persons:
- 1,5 kg potatoes
- 600 gr of kale (I normally have the one which is curlier on the sides, but only found this one when I made this recipe, which tastes the same)
- 40 gr butter
- 2 table spoons of white vinegar
- A bit of cream, or milk as you prefer, to make the Stamppot creamy, and not dry
- 100 gr of bacon cubes
For the meatballs:
- 500 gr of minced meat
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper, and chili powder (optional)
For the sauce:
- 30 gr of butter
- 30 gr of flour
- 450 ml of (strong) beef stock (I used 2 stock cubes)
- I add the grease the meatballs have cooked in to the sauce at the end for more taste.
On the side:
- Apple sauce
- Mustard for the meatballs if you like
How to prepare:
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in halves
- Chop up the kale finely, but not too fine. Do not use the stems so only the leaves.
- Put the potatoes in a big pan and the kale on top.
- Bring it to boil and leave it on medium temperature for about 25 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, make your meatballs. I usually mix the minced meat with 1 egg, salt and pepper, and sometimes some chili powder for taste.
- Start baking the bacon cubes until nicely browned and put them aside in a bowl.
- Then start baking your meatballs. Turn them every once in a while, until well cooked.
- Start making the sauce by melting the butter, add the flour and stir. Add water and the beef stock cubes. Bring it to boil and then lower the temperature. Keep the sauce on low temperature to keep it warm until dinner is ready. When the meatballs are done, I add the grease they baked in to the sauce.
- When the potatoes and the kale are done cooking, you take the water out of the pan and start mashing everything. In the Netherlands we use a ‘stamppotstamper’, which looks like this:
- Add the butter to the mashed potato and kale mixture and add some cream or milk until the puree has the consistency you like. Basically you add until it is not ‘dry’ but a bit creamy.
- Add the bacon cubes and the vinegar and stir.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the Boerenkool Stamppot on a plate, with the warm sauce, and apple sauce on the side.
- In our family we always served the sauce in a hole in the middle which we would call ‘the volcano’, but I don’t know whether that’s just us 😊.
Tip: if you have leftover kale this tastes good in a smoothie!