Ah, the world of stamppot.  You may have dipped your foodie toes into this dish by means of a shepherd’s pie, but alas over here in the Netherlands it is the dish of all dishes.  As a foreigner one might ask – what is the cuisine of the Dutch?  If you walk the streets you will see that for restaurants they mostly eat foreign.  I asked my uncle-in-law once when he was touring me around Groningen, what traditional Dutch food was?  He quickly ushered me to a nearby herring stand and bade me to try it in true Dutch style.  Here I am, trying to do it right.

But what else is there?  I have introduced you to the mini meatballs in soup, pastries filled with almond paste, dutch appeltaart, but here is a real secret.  I call it a secret because it is mainly only made in the home.  It’s stamppot.  There are tons of varieties, so you will see a few on here in the future.  I had to make it “kale-style” before my hubby would marry me (just kidding, but it helped!).  It’s the kind of dish that you associate with your mom’s cooking, cold days and winter, basically the perfect comfort food.

The dutch love their potatoes and that is the base of this dish.  Mash any type of veg into it and you got a stamppot.  I am probably going to get this wrong, but I heard a story of its’ origin recently.  It had something to do with the invasion/freedom fight in Leiden way back in the day.  The soldiers had nothing to eat, so they copied the invading soldiers’ “stew” and invented the stamppot.

After years of only having boerenkool (the kale stamppot), it was high time to branch out.  Witlof or Belgian endive, as we call it in Canada, was an interesting ingredient.  They really use it here, not just as a spoon-type veg to carry an appetizer, but they really use it.  I always thought it was bitter as heck, but in this dish it is really good.  Wow, that is a good explanation – really good.  Here’s another try – It keeps its form, stays mildly crunchy and it cuts the richness in the dish.  The clove cheese may prove very difficult to find back in Canada, but you could try.  You could also just sprinkle some whole or ground cloves on top of a good gouda (that means: get it at a cheese shop and don’t use that processed smoked sliced stuff you see at the supermarket, please!).

I seem to think that stamppot is a main on its own, but Mr. F is always wanting it with a side of protein (a true meat and potatoes man – my Dad would be proud).  This one goes well with the traditional accompaniment of sausage or beef, but I tried it with a white fish and it was super.  I’ve made it twice in the last month and it has been met with rave reviews.  Mr. F calls it crack-in-a-bowl, I call it rich, smooth and something different for your dinner.     

 

 Friese Witlof Stamppot – Albert Heijn online http://www.ah.nl/recepten (sorry they are all in Dutch)

This serves 4 people a good-sized helping.

I kg potatoes peeled and quartered

1 kg belgian endive (aka witlof or chicory)

2 tbsp butter

1 vegetable stock cube + 1 cup water or 1 cup prepared stock

0.5 cup (125ml) creme fraiche or sour cream

150g (2/3 cup) grated Friesland clove cheese (replaced by a good gouda cheese sprinkled with whole or ground cloves)

salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Boil the potatoes in a pot full of water for about 20 minutes or when they can easily be pierced with a fork.  As this is coming to a boil, prepare the endive.  Cut off the base and slice down the center in oder to remove the core.  Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the endive and the stock.  Cook on low with the lid on for about 20 minutes or until the endive is softish and becomes more translucent.  Stir the creme fraiche or sour cream in with the endive and season with nutmeg and black pepper. 

Turn the broiler on in the oven.  Drain the potatoes and mash.  I find it easier to mash if I add some of the liquid from the endive pan.  Once mashed creamy, mix the potatoes and endive together.  Place this mixture into an oven dish and sprinkle with the clove cheese.  Melt the cheese under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is a golden brown.  Serve big heaping scoops onto each plate and as I mentioned a side of meat is optional.

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