I am very excited to share this recipe with you! For many reasons, this is a special dish.
First of all, it is delicious comfort food — one of the saving graces of the chilly season that is quickly approaching. Like a good cold-weather dish, it will warm you up and stick to your ribs.
The other reason I am happy to write about this dish is that it means sharing about my time in the Netherlands. When I was a junior in high school, I did a year-long foreign exchange to the kikkerlandje (kikker=frog, landje=little country …. funny nickname, right?).
First of all, big thanks from the bottom of my heart to my host family for taking care of me the whole time. They provided the most welcoming home I could’ve hoped for, even through my more challenging days. I’m pretty sure teen angst and the stress of culture shock meant I was not always the funnest person to be around. I cringe a little thinking about it but it makes me more thankful for the support I had. Big thanks to my family at home as well — they made the trip possible, let my teenage self go abroad alone, and supported me along the way.
I could talk forever about my experiences, but let’s focus in on the food. I discovered a lot of special foods throughout the year. Just a few that come to mind:
- Ontbijtkoek — a dense spiced breakfast cake, perfect with a smear of butter
- Frikandel — fried hot dog type snack. I topped mine with curry sauce and frietsaus
- Dutch pancakes — crepe-like with toppings like apples or bacon
- Kip sate — chicken with a peanut satay sauce
- Vla – thick pudding. We often had this for dessert topped with a little slagroom (cream).
- Speculaas – spiced biscuits for Sinterklaas.
- Drop – black licorice. You can definitely acquire a taste for this — people even say it’s addictive.
I liked the special stuff but really loved the day-to-day eats. They were predictable and simply delicious. Both breakfast and lunch centered around boterham — sandwiches with cheese, meats, jam, or pindakaas (means peanut butter but literally translates to peanut cheese). My favorite breakfast was two slices of bread, spread with butter and topped with chocolate Hagel Slag. Those little chocolate sprinkles made my mornings.
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Lunch was a couple sandwiches with either meat or cheese. My favorite lunch was also a simple one — bread, butter and a few slices of young Gouda cheese. (The cheese! ugh, so good). I usually had an apple and some Sultana crackers as well.
Suppers almost always followed a simple formula — potatoes + vegetable + meat.
The Midwest is often described as a meat-and-potatoes kind of place, but I think this holds more true for the Netherlands I know.
A few months after arriving in the Netherlands, the Dutch winter started. I started having more chilly and sometimes wet bike rides to school. When my sister was home from school, we shared a room and quietly fought over having the window in our room open (she wanted it fris!) or closed (I wanted to be lekker warm!).
The food started to change a little too. Potatoes were cooked up in a Dutch oven and mashed with veggies, topped with meat, and called stamppot. My favorite was potatoes mashed with sauerkraut, served with smoked sausage and mustard.
I realized a while back that I had never cooked stamppot, but wanted to give it a try. I was happy to find it on “The Dutch Table” along with lots of typical Dutch recipes.
This dish really is pretty simple. Some chopping and peeling, then you let it all boil together and finally mash and serve. The recipe calls for a bunch of kale, the super food! I like the name for kale in Dutch — boerenkool, boeren=farmer’s, kool=cabbage. We use kool in English too — coleslaw comes from Dutch koolsla, cabbage salad.
The mustard is really necessary, and it’s even better if you have whole grain mustard.
Boerenkool met worst
Mashed potatoes with kale and kielbasa
Adapted from Dutch Table
1 large bunch kale
6 large russet potatoes
3 T butter
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 kielbasa sausage
Salt, to taste
Mustard for dipping
Cut the kale from the stems and slice into strips.
Peel potatoes, cut into quarters, and place in large soup pot or Dutch oven.
Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Place kale on top, then sausage.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and cook for twenty minutes, or until potatoes break apart when stuck with a fork.
Remove sausage and drain off any extra water. Add milk, butter, and salt to taste, then mash until creamy.
Serve with sliced sausage and mustard.
I hope you try this simply delicious meal — eet smakelijk!