Stamppot (Hodge-podge) - A Basic Dutch Dinner

Stamppot (Hodge-podge) - A Basic Dutch Dinner

Although calorie-counting has hit Holland, the Dutch remain attached to their traditional and filling winter dishes, including stamppot, a meal made of mashed potatoes and vegetables. This is often served as a complete family meal with braised meats as they provide the gravy. The basic ingredient is the potato which is cooked with a root vegetable, such as a carrot, or with vegetables such as cabbage or curly kale (boerenkool). The vegetables and potatoes are then mashed with butter and seasoning. Finer vegetables such as endive (escarole) do not need to be cooked. They are shredded and mashed into the hot mashed potato.

The most famous of these mashed dishes is called "hutspot" and dates back to October 1574. The Spaniards had occupied the city of Leiden for almost a year. The inhabitants were starving when William of Orange cleverly flooded the surrounding countryside. He ordered his fleet to advance on the rising waters. On October 1, they advanced forward and made it up to the city walls. Two days later they conquered the oppressors. William’s forces not only saved Leiden, but they provided desperately-needed food supplies, mainly bread, cheese and herring. However, the story goes that a small boy found a pot with the remains of some mashed parsnip, beans and other vegetables in the deserted Spanish camp. This original version of "hutspot", now eaten with potatoes and carrots, is the meal served every year during the festivities still held in LEIDEN every October 3.

Recipe - Hutspot: Hodge-Podge Leiden Style:

4 servings

Bring the water to the boil. Add the salt and beef, cover and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours. Add the vegetables and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm. Drain and mash the vegetables. Add the butter, pepper and more salt, if necessary, and mix well. Place the mashed vegetables on a serving platter. Slice the meat and arrange on top. Serve immediately.

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