Dutch comfy food for a monthly mingle

January 27th, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

In the heart of the dutch winter, when it’s freezing cold outside, dark and rainy, when my stomach crave for some comfort food that will warm me up from head to toe… I cook dutch! When it comes to winter comfort food, dutch know their way in the kitchen: steaming hot erwtensoup (pea soup) with smoked sausage, creamy potato hutspot* or stamppot* with chicory or boerenkool, served with meatballs, sausages or bacon and a rich flavoured gravy… Might not sound like michelin star gastronomy to you, but I assure you, once you have tried the real homemade stuff, you’ll ask for more. 

I’ve been willing to post about my weakness for dutch winter food since the beginning of the winter season but didn’t come to it yet. Then last week, I stumbled over the theme of the Monthly Mingle event organised by Meetah from What’s for lunch honey? : comfort food! What a perfect occasion. Further, some days ago,  while having dinner in a dutch “Eetcafé”, I couldn’t help overhearing some expats at a table next to me complaining of the lack of culinary traditions in Holland….

So, to lovely Meetah and to all the too many expats in the Netherlands who cannot stop complaining about the lack of culinary culture in this country… Here’s one of my dutch winter favourite comfort food, the dutch ‘boeuf bourguignon’, the king of dutch stews, the ‘Hachee’.  Lean stewing steak, a lot of shallots and oignons, browned in butter and delicately flavoured with juniper berries, bay leaves and cloves, simmered slowly in a lot of beer until the meat falls apart… Lekker**!

Hachee
The king of dutch stews


My recipe is probably far from the traditionnal one but has been approved by many dutch so far. It is inspired from my favourite dutch cookbook (in english! …didn’t speak dutch at the time I got it): “Dutch cooking – The new kitchen” from Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer.
Just like boeuf bourguignon, in private, I love to have my Hachee with macaroni. When I have guests, I’ll serve it with a celeriac mash. Always a success. 


Hachee
Dutch hash stew – Boeuf mijoté à la hollandaise

serves 6 pers.
prep: 30 min. cook: 2 hrs

Ingredients:
1.5 kg lean stewing steak, diced in chunks fom ~3×3 cm
1 handful flour,
60g butter,
200g shallots, peeled and chopped
500g onions, peeled and sliced thinly
500 ml beer,
1 Tsp sugar

2 bay leaves,
3 cloves,
6 juniper berries,
sea salt and pepper to taste,
optionnal: 2 slices of bread generously spread with mustard

Hachee ingredients


Put the pieces of meat in a plastic bac with a handful of flour and shake to coat the meat. Melt the 2 thirds of the butter (40g) in a cocotte or heavy casserole and sear the meat on high heat (proceed in two batches to get the meat nicely brown). Reserve the meat, add the remaining butter and sauteed the onions (reserve ~100 g for later) and shallots over a low to medium heat until transparent. Pour back the meat, season to taste with sea salt and pepper and add the sugar, the cloves, bay leaves and juniper berries. — At that moment, the original recipe calls for two slices of bread crust removed, spread with mustard and added in chunks to the cocotte which should help thicken the stew (use then 750ml beer). Somehow, I have always inadvertantly missed that step without consequences, but will surely try it next time. — Then cover with beer and leave to simmer covered for about 2 hours. Serve hot with macaroni al dente or mashed celeriac or potatoes. 

Eet smakkelijk!
potato
My dutch potato “stampper”

Mashed Celeriac
Purée de Céleri rave

serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 + 5 min. cook: 20 min
Ingredients:
1 celeriac (~800g), cleaned, peeled and diced in 2 cm x 2 cm chunks***
4 potatoes (~300g), cleaned, peeled and diced
30g butter,
10cl liquid cream,

1 Tsp coarse sea salt,
pepper to taste,

Put a large amount of water to boil together with 1 Tsp of sea salt. When the water is boiling, add the celeriac and potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 min on medium heat or until the celeriac and potato are tender. Drain. Add half of the liquid cream, slightly warmed,  and mash using a fork or a dutch “stampper”  (don’t blend, the mash should be coarse). Add the butter and eventually add some more liquid cream to adjust the texture to your taste. Season with freshly crushed pepper. Serve hot!
If you wish, the vegetables can be boiled in advance, don’t drain and reserve covered until 15min before serving. Then reheat on low-fire, mash and season at the last moment.

Bon appétit!

* stamppot is a typical winter dutch dish calling for boiled potatoes coarsely mashed with roughly chopped season vegetables (raw or cooked) such as chicory, white loaf, carrots and oignons (this latest version being called hutspot)
** Lekker is dutch for yummy!
***  To avoid browning, keep covered in cold water seasoned with lemon juice

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