Kale. Is it just me or does it seem like this leafy cruciferous green has become somewhat trendy (again) over the past few years? Sure, people have been eating it since ancient times and it’s a commonly eaten vegetable in many parts of the world, but I feel like kale is suddenly a lot ‘cooler’ than it was when I was growing up. Growing up in the Netherlands, kale, or ‘boerenkool‘ as we call it, is consumed quite a lot and I never really thought this leafy green was all that special and I certainly never really thought of it as a ‘super food’. I only really started to appreciate and crave it again after I moved to sunny Greece and it suddenly became something I could only sporadically find whilst food shopping (I believe it’s only been little over two or three years since I occasionally started seeing kale pop up at the farmer’s markets and specialised bio-food stores over here)… Isn’t that how it always goes? You truly miss something when it (almost) goes away. Anyway, I think it’s about time I share my re-appreciation of kale with this recipe for a traditional Dutch boerenkool stamppot, don’t you think?
Dutch boerenkool stamppot (literally translated it means ‘farmer’s cabbage mash pot’, or ‘farmer’s cabbage hodgepodge’), is a traditional and quintessential Dutch winter staple. As is the case with most Dutch winter foods (see hutspot here), in its most basic form it simply consists of potatoes mashed together with something — in this case cooked kale. However, the mash is generally always served with slices of smoked pork sausage (‘met worst’ as we say) and some fried lardons (‘spekjes’) to spruce it up a bit.
Not only are the ingredients for this Dutch comfort food quite simple, so is its preparation. The main ingredients, except for the lardons, are cooked together in one large pot: the potatoes go in first with some water to barely cover them, then finely chopped curly kale is put on top so that it basically steams over the potatoes, and the smoked sausage lays on top of that bed of leafy greens… and it only needs about 20 – 25 minutes on the stove. The lardons are usually fried separately and stirred in, or sprinkled on top after mashing the kale and potatoes and that’s basically it.
If you want to make your stamppot ‘extra special’ (haha), you can serve it with some extra additions such as mustard, cornichons, pickled onions and/or some gravy as well (the latter the Dutch usually pour into a little dent made in the middle of the mash, or what we refer to as ‘het juskuiltje’). For my recipe here, I don’t make a separate gravy (but yes to mustard and pickles), but simply mix the fat of the fried lardons plus some milk and butter through the mash instead – I believe that is filling and flavourful enough as it is!
Tip: Some people don’t like to add any milk or butter to the mash, or simply pick either butter or milk. I like the creaminess of both, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy milk just to add a splash to this recipe. If you choose to not use any milk and/or butter, or want to make this recipe completely dairy-free, only use some of the reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes and kale to moisten the mash instead.
Tip 2: to make this dish completely plant-based, follow the tip above (use only cooking liquid) and replace the sausage and lardons with some toasted walnuts. In The Netherlands they have also started selling a plant-based version of the rookworst.
Boerenkool Stamppot met Rookworst en Spekjes / Traditional Dutch Curly Kale Mash with Smoked Sausage and Lardons