Sauerkraut has long been a vital source of vitamin C during cold Dutch winters, but the Dutch did not discover this wholesome food. In fact, it is said that the builders of the Great Wall of China kept their strength up with pickled cabbage, and it is likely that Tartares brought the recipe for sauerkraut with them to Russia and Western Europe, where sweet-sour flavors were much loved in the Middle Ages. Thanks to the increasing awareness of the health benefits of lacto-fermentation, old-fashioned fermented foods are once again gaining in popularity in the Netherlands, and beyond. Of course, today zuurkoolstamppot is mostly enjoyed for its hearty comfort in the colder months, but knowing it's good for you is heartening too. Traditionally sauerkraut stamppot is also served with rookworst, but we usually leave out this smoked Dutch sausage, because the bacon in the recipe already imparts plenty of porky flavor.
- 3.3 lb (1.5 kg) floury potatoes
- 3/4 lb (350 g) lean unsmoked cured bacon/zuurkoolspek
- 1 3/4 lb (750 g) sauerkraut
- 2 cups (475 ml) milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 cup (40 g) celery leaf (selderieblad, see Tips), to taste
Peel and dice the potatoes and cook in salted water in a large soup pot for 20 minutes, or until tender.
In a skillet or frying pan, fry the bacon until just crispy, and drain on kitchen paper. Add the sauerkraut to the bacon fat in the pan and allow to warm through. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan.
Drain, shake and dry the potatoes with kitchen towels before mashing with a potato masher or ricer.
Quickly add the warmed milk and butter to the potatoes and season to taste.
Fold the sauerkraut through the mashed potatoes. Crumble the bacon and finely chopped celery leaves over the dish, fold through, and serve piping hot.
- Celery leaf is a commonly used herb in the Netherlands and it is available in most Dutch supermarkets. If it is hard to find where you live, simply buy a bunch of stick celery and use the tender interior leaves.
- Zuurkoolspek is a Dutch bacon variety made from pork belly cured in a salt brine. If you can't find it where you live, ask your butcher to recommend something similar.
- While stamppotten are usually served as a main meal in the Netherlands, you could also serve this as a side dish with pork, beef or game meats.