While I was born and raised in the Netherlands, coming from an immigrant background I largely grew up on Indonesian food. Stamppot was not something we had often, and it remains something that’s kind of exotic to me.
European nasi goreng
Stamppot, literally mash or stomp pot, is basically a European nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice). A carb (potatoes) combined with (root) vegetables and sometimes meat from what you can imagine may have been leftovers from the days before. While a lot of Dutch people like to think stamppot is unique to the Netherlands, the UK has bubble and squeak for example and babies have baby food, which are pretty much the same thing.
Stamppot comes in many varieties, more so now that people are trying to incorporate the flavors of the Dutch immigrant community into their national dish. But the most traditional and well known versions are:
- Hutspot, with potatoes, carrots and onions
- Boerenkool, with potatoes and kale
- Zuurkool, with potatoes and sauerkraut
- Andijviestamppot, with potatoes and endive (the green kind, not chicory)
Every family has their own stamppot recipes and traditions, though generally you can’t go wrong with adding some fried bacon to any of the above. Most stamppots, as any food mash, will be had with a side of gravy and either meatballs or slowly cooked beef, like klapstuk or ‘draadjesvlees’, a mild Dutch daging semur, if we’re going to keep this comparison to Indonesian food going.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say I rarely eat any of the above because they are just too mushy for me and the only thing I’d really like to get a handle on is making gravy, because gravy is god.
Of the above my favorite stamppot is andijviestamppot with cheese and bacon, because cheese and bacon. I won’t see me near boerenkool or zuurkool unless it’s by brute force, but I do eat hutspot once a year. As is the custom in the city that I live in.
Leids Ontzet: Hutspot for days
During the 80 year war with Spain, Leiden was under siege by the Spanish. Legend has it that, after the liberation of the city, a small boy, starving from the siege, as much as the city had been, ventured out of the city limits and found a pot of hutspot (then comprised of parsnips, carrots and onions) that could feed the entire city.
As unfeasonable as all of this is, the pot is still on display at the Lakenhal and Leiden and its inhabitants still celebrate it’s old found independence every year by getting extremely drunk on October 2nd and then getting up early (not all of us) for herring and white bread. There’s a fun fair and a parades. With markets and stages with local bands performing throughout the city.
And there is hutspot. Most Leidenaren (as the local inhabitants are called) won’t even eat hutspot much of the rest of the year. I have joined this custom. But more so because my Dutch cooking is quite poor and I don’t really like it. I go see my friend’s mom at Leids Ontzet however, and she’s a mean cook. So that’s how that happens.
Ask a Dutch person
I thought it’d be fun to make my own this year, and try and get a handle on that gravy. So I asked around on (Dutch) Twitter about their hutspot, gravy and meatball making secrets. You can run the threads below (use translate) to get an impression the different ways people cook these Dutch staples. Beware of mansplainers.
Zijn er nog mensen met het geheim voor de beste hutspot ooit? Ik vraag dit voor #LeidsOntzet
— Vette Sletten 🤤🐷🍆 (@VetteSletten) September 27, 2019
While I felt Feminist Ctulhu had the best handle on balls.
Wat is jullie geheim voor de perfecte gehaktbal met jus? Ze bij Dungelmann in Den Haag kopen telt niet pic.twitter.com/aggM0LPvFr
— Vette Sletten 🤤🐷🍆 (@VetteSletten) September 1, 2019
Hutspot - Dutch Mash with Meatballs and Gravy
For the meatballs
- 500 gr minced meat a beef and pork mixture is preferred, avoid lean minced meat as it'll get too dry
- 1 bag ready-made meatball spice mix yes, really
- 1 tbsp fried onions the kind you put on a hotdog
- 1 small or medium egg
- butter for frying
If you really don't want to use ready-made spice mix
- 2 1/3 tbsp breadcrumbs
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- nutmeg to taste
- paprika optional, to taste
- chili optional, to taste
For the gravy
- 1/2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 c beef stock home-made or from a cube
For the hutspot
- 500 gr floury potatoes peeled and diced
- 500 gr carrots coarsely grated
- 200 gr onions thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic optional
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 c cheese grated, optional but recommended
- 1/2 c bacon cut into small cubes, optional but recommended
- cream or full fat milk to taste, optional
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
To make the meatballs
- Mix together the beef, spice mix, egg and fried onion until well-combined.
- TIP: If you want to tweak flavor, add spices to taste, fry a tiny pinch of the mixture in a frying pan, taste, tweak, and so forth.
- If you want nice and even sized balls, weigh the end result and divide by however many balls you’re going to need. Roll the balls in your hands until they are nice and smooth.
- Let your balls set in the fridge for at least half an hour, this will help them hold their shape when you fry them.
- Melt a good helping of butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy based deep pan.
- Once the butter has stopped foaming drop in the balls and roll them around gently until all sized have reached an even brown sear.
- Place on a very low heat and leave to cook for 20 minutes with the lid on, until your balls are semi-solid and cooked through.
To make the gravy
- Note if your butter has burned you will not want to make gravy like this.
- Remove the balls from the Dutch oven.
- Stir in the flour to make a light roux. Be sure to let it go for a minute or two to let the flour cook and avoid a floury taste to your gravy.
- Slowly stir in the beef stock until the gravy has slightly thickened.
To make the hutspot
- Cook the peeled and diced potatoes, grated carrot and clove of garlic for 20 minutes or so until all are tender.
- While that is happening, melt some butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly wilt down the onions until they’ve gone from sweating, to translucent to golden brown. Stir them frequently to avoid burning.
- Drain the potatoes and carrots, add the onions with an additional pat of butter and mash everything to all hell. If you’re using additional dairy or other ingredients now is the time to add them. Most people like their hutspot kind of lumpy, but you can go as fine as you like.
- Season to taste. Serve with the gravy and meatballs, or that European daging semur I don’t have a recipe for.