I’m going to say something deeply unfashionable in foodie circles: I like Dutch cuisine. I like hearty soups and stews and mountains of cabbage anyway. I’m very Northern European in my tastes and I like small deep fried things, thus I enjoyed the hell out of the food when I visited Holland.
Dutch food gets a bad rap and I’m sure a lot of that comes from the fact tastes have changed and this kind of solid, simply flavoured food doesn’t translate well when cooked in bulk or done cheaply like in ready meals. But frankly, I think it’s pretty outrageous of the Irish or British to criticise other countries’ food as being bland or boring. It misses the point, creates a kind of food snobbery and ignores the seismic effect World War II had on Northern European food and the attempts to regroup from that.
So when I found myself with an accidental over abundance of gravy earlier this week after pot roasting a chicken in the slow cooker and Googled what to do with it (you may not want to do this if anyone else will see your search history) and the Dutch dish stamppot came up, I was thrilled. It was like I’d discovered turbo charged champ.
Cabbage or kale is stirred through mashed potato along with bacon or smoked sausage (traditionally Dutch rookworst) and then served with a hollow of piping hot gravy you dip each mouthful into before eating. It’s perfect for leftovers, utterly delicious and incredibly warming now the weather appears to be turning slightly.
Stamppot (serves 2)
- 600g potatoes
- knob of butter
- 60ml milk, warmed
- 200g kale or cabbage or rainbow chard
- 150g lardons or chunks of bacon
- 100ml gravy
This is a dish that works best with leftovers for me, as a take on bubble and squeak, but if you are making it from scratch it’s very easy.
Peel and cube the potatoes. Cover with cold water and a little bit of salt and bring to the boil. Boil for about 10-12 minutes or until fork tender. Don’t let them become mushy and water-logged. Drain well and then return to the pan where you should put them over enough heat to dry them out slightly as this gives lighter mash.
While the potatoes are cooking, cube the bacon. I like good chunks cut from my homemade version but go with what you like. Chorizo doesn’t work here. The southern European flavour clashes with the Northern ones. You could use cubed smoked sausage or crumbled black pudding though. Cook the bacon until just crisping round the edges.
If I’m using homemade bacon with its silky piggy fat, I put the finely shredded greens into the pan of bacon cubes to wilt. If not, steam for about 2 minutes (I do all my steaming of veg in the microwave and it’s fabulously fast and easy.)
Pass the potatoes through a ricer if you have one or simply mash. Beat the butter in and add the warmed milk and whisk with a spoon or spatula until they are creamy and smooth. Add in the bacon and greens and mix well.
I’ve used leftover gravy but you could make the onion one I’ve linked to for extra flavour. The one I made was simply 500ml of the cooking liquid from a slow cooked chook, a heaped dessertspoon of cornflour in enough water to dissolve, a dash of Lea and Perrins and a bit of gravy browning. Cook until thickened and piping hot.
Put the mashed potato in separate bowls, making a hollow with the back of a spoon. Pour the gravy in this hollow and serve, dipping each mouthful and making sure it doesn’t spill down the sides. Warm your cockles with second helpings and enjoy!