Hutspot met Klapstuk (Dutch ‘Hotchpotch’ with Braised Beef)

Last week was the 3rd of October, a day which Dutch people, those living in Leiden in particular, may celebrate by eating soused herring on white bread and hutspot. “What is hutspot? And what’s to celebrate?” You might ask… if not, you can skip to the recipe at the bottom of this post. Well, while the name of the dish sounds a bit silly and not very appetizing – ‘hutspot’ means something along the lines of ‘shaken pot’, or ‘hotchpotch’ – it’s simply a dish made from boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots and onions with a long history in traditional Dutch cuisine. Indeed, the story behind this dish and why it’s eaten on the 3rd of October is quite interesting. And don’t worry, you can definitely eat it on other days of the year as well!


According to the story, this dish originated during the events of the siege, and relief, of the city of Leiden during the Eighty Years War. It is said that on the night of the 2nd to the 3rd of October in 1574, a storm suddenly turned southwards and seawater rapidly flooded all the fields surrounding Leiden. This happened as a result of the eventual liberators breaching the dikes some time before in an attempt to relief the city from its captivators by sending through a rebel fleet. As the water level in and around the city got so high and there were very few high points to seek refuge from the water, the Spanish soldiers quickly fled their strongholds.


The next day, the relieving rebels fleet arrived at the city, feeding the starving citizens soused herring and white bread. It is said that later that day, a young orphan boy named Cornelis Joppenszoon found a pot of ‘hutspot’ in one of the abandoned army camps left behind by the Spanish, which was shared with and greatly welcomed by the starving citizens as well.

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The anniversary of these events, now known as Leidens Ontzet, is still celebrated every 3rd of October in Leiden by drinking too much beer, eating soused herring – the first food that was passed out to the starving citizens of Leiden after the victory over the Spanish invaders – and by recreating and eating the dish that was found by the orphan boy later that day. However, what the boy really found on that day, nobody is actually really sure about.


While potatoes are a staple food in Dutch cuisine nowadays, in the time of the Siege of Leiden potatoes were still quite uncommon in The Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Therefore, it’s likely that the original hutspot was made with parsnips, or maybe even turnips as it’s basis – root vegetables that were a lot more common at the time. The carrots, too, were probably introduced to West-Europe a bit after the relief of Leiden, so the ingredients of the true hutspot may always be a mystery.



These days, as I already mentioned, hutspot is usually made with mashed potatoes and winterpeen (winter carrot). It’s common to use winter carrots in this dish, firstly, because hutspot is commonly eaten throughout autumn and winter, and secondly because the winter carrots are a tad less sweet than smaller common carrots and they give the hutspot its distinctive flavor. As for the potatoes, you can basically use any potato you like, or, instead of using potatoes, you can make a variation of hutspot that is probably closer to the original by substituting half, or all of the potatoes with parsnip.


Hutspot is usually cooked with ‘klapstuk’ in the same pot. Klapstuk is a cut of fat-marbled beef from the rib section near the chest, which makes it a perfect cut of meat to be slow-cooked until it’s so soft it almost melts in your mouth. Some people like to add the klapstuk straight to the pot with the potatoes and vegetables, while others prefer to braise the meat in a separate pot. Since the meat needs quite some time, and I don’t want to overcook the potatoes and vegetables too much by boiling everything together in a pot for hours, my recipe calls for a bit of both. First the meat is braised separately for about 3 – 4 hours, after which I add the potatoes and vegetables to be cooked in the same pot.


If klapstuk is not available – or if one can’t be bothered to braise the meat for hours – it’s usually substituted with smoked sausage, or cubes of smoked bacon… maybe even a meatball. Of course, this dish can also be made as a vegetarian dish by skipping all the steps involving meat and simply boiling the potatoes and vegetables in 750ml of water, or vegetable stock. HOWEVER, if you do serve this dish with meat and gravy, it’s absolutely necessary to create a little dent in the mash in which you pour the gravy. Why? I don’t know! It is just what us Dutchies do when eating a ‘stamppot’ (mash pot) dish like this – and boy, do we have many mashed dishes like this that all involve the mysterious, ubiquitous ‘gravy dent’… You wouldn’t want to break with tradition now, would you?



Anyway, let’s conclude this long story for such a simple potatoes and carrots dish… though, the history behind this seemingly simple dish does make it sound a bit more interesting and appealing, doesn’t it?


Hutspot met Klapstuk

5.0 rating based on 1 rating
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:215 mins
  • Serves:6
  • Freezable:Yes

Nutrition per portion

  • For the klapstuk:
  • 500g boneless beef chuck short ribs, or brisket
  • 25g butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500ml hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • -
  • For the hutspot:
  • 1.2kg potatoes
  • 1kg winter carrot
  • 500g yellow onion
  • 25g butter
  • 100ml milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Boil 500ml of water and set aside to use later.
  2. In a large pot, or Dutch oven, melt 25g of butter and add the bay leafs. Generously salt and pepper your piece of meat and brown the meat on all sides in the melted butter on medium-high heat.
  3. Add the boiled hot water to the pot with the meat. Cover with a lid and leave on a soft simmer for at least 3 hours (4 hours, or more is even better if you have the time). Make sure the cooking liquid covers the meat at least halfway at all times. Add water if and when needed.
  4. When the meat is almost done, peel the potatoes and carrots and roughly chop into pieces. Peel and mince the onions.
  5. Remove the meat from its pot and set aside on a plate. Also remove about 250ml of the cooking liquid and set aside - this will be the ‘gravy’. Leave the rest of the cooking liquid in the pot.
  6. Add potatoes, carrots and onions to the pot with the residual cooking liquid. Add the necessary amount of water so that the potatoes are just covered.
  7. Place the meat back into the pot on top of the vegetables and cover pot with a lid. Leave to boil softly for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and vegetables are fully cooked and soft.
  8. When the potatoes and vegetables are done, carefully remove the meat from the pot and keep warm.
  9. Drain the cooking liquid from the pot and mash the potatoes, carrots and onion. The texture of the dish should be a little bit chunky rather than a smooth puree, so don’t overdo the mashing.
  10. Finally, add the milk, a knob of butter, a pinch of nutmeg and extra salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix. Now, you can either cut the beef into small pieces and mix it through the potato-mixture, or you can cut it into 1.5- 2cm thick slices and put it on top.
  11. To serve: quickly reheat the reserved ‘gravy’ / cooking liquid from the meat and have a little taste. Add extra salt and pepper if needed. You can add a tiny extra knob of butter as well. Scoop potato-mixture onto a plate and place some slices of meat on top. Create a little dent in the potato mixture and fill with some of the ‘gravy’.


  1. Susan Breton Rudd

    Sounds delicious except I would fry my onions to bring out their flavour.


    1. thegluttonlife

      Thank you! Very good tip! I think it would be delicious with fried onions.


  2. Saartje P

    This a goed recipe, but it’s not really a national Dutch festival, it’s specific to Leiden, and celebrating the end of the Siege of Leiden. People around the rest of Nederland don’t have this festival.
    The herring and white bread is given out free early on the morning of 3 Oktober and you have to be born/live in Leiden to get this (if you want to queue up!)
    Top tip: if you are going to Leiden for 3 Oktober festival (2-3 Oktober) and want to eat this in a restaurant don’t go to one of the tourist trap places, ask local people the best places to eat it.


    1. thegluttonlife

      Thank you for the kind comment and additional info and tips!

      I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear from the text in the post above that this is celebrated specifically in Leiden (perhaps I should change the text a little?). I lived there for about 8 years, but am originally from Schiedam, so I don’t know all the pro-tips ;).


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