This was one of my key aims: to cook, and eat (or at least try and get the children to eat) a meal from every country we visit. I also want to read a book from every country, and Ben is keen to go running at least once, drink one alcoholic drink, and set foot in them all (Lucy ran once round the car in a layby about 500m from the Franco-Belgian Border to prove that particular point).
We didn’t have time to cook a meal while she was doing that, and we will be going back to both Belgium and France so our first meal challenge is the Netherlands.
The internet tells me that Stamppot is “the most quintessential Dutch dish“. Leaving aside the question of whether something can be “most” quintessential and mindful too of the need not prevent meltdowns (mostly mine) when the children refuse to eat their supper, I thought mashed potato and vegetables seemed a good place to start.
There are multiple versions of stamppot on the net, but spruce eats says this version, with kale (something the children will eat) and sausages (you guessed it) “arguably could be considered the Netherlands’ national dish”
Buy your ingredients
Kale, potatoes, sausage. Easy, right?
The kale was indeed easy – and it even comes pre-shredded. I’m just very glad I knew what the word was before I went to the supermarket as I’d never have identified it otherwise.
The sausage I was looking for was, apparently, called rookworst. It’s a Dutch smoked variety. Turkey ones are available, but we thought pork might be preferable. Again. Not too hard to source. In fact the local Lidl (yes, we’ve managed to find a house with a Lidl in walking distance) had two varieties, fresh in the fridge (and with a helpful picture of a pig on it to prevent confusion) and something else (dried?) in a vacuum pack. I have an instinctive horror of vacuum packed sausage so bought fresh ones.
Poatoes. Easy again. As long as you want 5 kilos. It appears the Dutch must eat a lot of potatoes.
Also onions. I forgot those so had to send Ben back for them later. He loves that.
Prepare your ingredients
The cottage we are staying has not got what you would describe as a Cook’s Kitchen. Notable by their absence are a) a potato peeler, b) a potato masher and c) a pan big enough to get 1.5kg of potatoes in. Not deterred and inspired by my sister in law (who is both Irish and a potato afficionado – the two may or may not be connected), I decided not to peel the potatoes. If she can make mash with unpeeled potatoes, I decided, so can I.
Next problem. How to cook the rookworst. They came with no instructions. Grill? Bake? Fry?. Again the internet came to my rescue. Simmer them (Really? Simmer a sausage? Don’t try that in Lincolnshire). With a lack of pans, and inspired by this site, I just stuck them on top of the potatoes.
And do you know what? It worked! I chopped the onion and gently fried it with bit of butter before mixing in the kale. I’d have called it “wilting” the kale but it was so finely chopped already it didn’t have much texture to wilt.
Then I mashed the potatoes with some more butter, a bit of milk and some of the sausagey cooking liquid. I then threw some of the liquid all over my trousers just for fun and finished off the cooking in my pants.
The kitchen isn’t very well lit either so it was quite hard to see what I was doing by this point, so to mix the mash (in a too small pan) with the kale (also in a too small pan) I wore a head torch. Don’t try this at home…
I then put the sausages on top, found another pair trousers, removed the head torch and bore our Boerenkoolstamppot triumphant to the table. And they ate it!
Time for pudding. And this really was simple. I bought it. It was delicious.
It turns out it has beans it it. Who knew? Cake as one of your five a day.
Not content with a Dutch supper, we broke out into an Dutch breakfast this morning too.
Here’s a picture.
Yes. That is sprinkles and butter on crispy bread as recommended by one of Lucy’s friends who has Dutch cousins. It really is a traditional Dutch breakfast. Apparently you can use ordinary bread or toast too if you prefer. And also apparently this is a totally normal breakfast here. Certainly the wide choice of sprinkles available would seem to suggest a high demand…
The reluctant eaters today were Ben and me, but in the spirit of “You must try everything at least once” we had some too. It was pretty much as you’d expect.
The kids, on the other hand, loved it. I’m not sure their dentist would be so keen.