Long before kale was something you found in your green smoothie, it was already a much-used ingredient in the Dutch winter kitchen, where it's known as boerenkool, or "farmer's cabbage". In fact, as ubiquitous an ingredient as it is in the Netherlands, it's also one of its most seasonal, and you won't find it anywhere outside of the winter months. That's because the Dutch believe that kale is at its best after the first frost, when part of the starch in the cabbage is converted to sugars and it tastes sweeter.
Most emblematic of all is its use in this traditional boerenkoolstamppot met rookworst, which arguably could be considered The Netherlands' national dish. What is stamppot?
This is Dutch comfort cooking; mashed potatoes and curly kale, served with a Dutch smoked sausage, known as rookworst. In strictly traditional recipes, the boerenkool is boiled, but we prefer sautéing the curly kale in a little olive oil to keep its color, texture and flavor intact. You can use those bags of pre-cut curly kale or bunches fresh from the garden. If you can't find rookworst where you live (you can order Dutch products online), use Kielbasa instead.
- 3.3 lb/1.5 kg floury potatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 shallots
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1.6 lb/750 g curly kale
- 2 rookworsten
- 2 cups/475 ml milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into similarly sized pieces for even cooking. In a large soup pot, boil the potatoes and the bay leaves in salted water for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
If you're not using a bag of ready-cut curly kale, wash the bunches thoroughly under cool running water to get rid of all soil - you wouldn't want that gritty texture in your finished dish. Trim any coarse stems and discard any brown leaves.
With a sharp knife, cut the curly kale into thin strips. Peel and chop the shallots.
In a frying pan or skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sauté the shallots for a few minutes before adding the curly kale and 2 tbsp of water. Season and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, warm the milk on the stove or in the microwave.
Drain, shake and dry the potatoes with kitchen towels before mashing with a potato masher or ricer. Working quickly, add the warm milk and the remaining butter. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix the cooked curly kale through the cooked mashed potato mixture. Top with slices of the smoked sausage and serve piping hot with your favorite mustard or gravy.
Did you know?
Loved for being frugal and filling, stamppotten are also very healthy. Potatoes are packed with potassium and vitamin C, while the ''queen of greens'' contains numerous health benefiting polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as lutein, zea-xanthin and beta-carotene, and is said to be richer source of vitamins than any other green leafy vegetable.
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