This last post of the year comes from Amsterdam, and is a recipe for the dish I have seen on pretty much every cafe menu for the past couple of days: stampot. A bolstering combination of mashed potato with bitter greens – what the Dutch call andijvie, and we know as escarole – it is delicious with stew (as shown), meatballs, or any other dish with copious gravy. It is the Dutch equivalent of colcannon and just what is needed to keep out the winter chill. Hutspot is a variant made with potatoes, winter carrots and onions. For a vegetarian version you could add diced cheese rather than bacon, softening the greens in oil. Neither dish can be described as light, but when the wind’s coming in off the North Sea it’s the sort of food you crave.
Several recipes I found online combined the raw andijvie with mashed potato but Marleen cooks it briefly first, and it is her recipe that follows. The recipe needs creamy mashing potatoes (kruimig is the Dutch term) – it won’t work with new or salad potatoes.
500g mashing potatoes
A head of escarole/andijvie
A good knob of butter
50g lardons of smoked bacon
1 tsp sunflower or olive oil
Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized pieces. Cover wifh water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft enough to mash. Strain in a colander, keeping a little of the cooking water.
Separate the leaves of the escarole, wash and dry in a salad spinner (or by whirling in a tea-towel). You may not need the whole head. We had bought a lovely large andijvie at the excellent Albert Cuyp market, and only used about half of it. Roughly shred the leaves.
Heat the milk and butter in the pan you cooked the potatoes in and, when hot, tip the potatoes back in and mash them roughly. This is not the moment for a silky smooth purée.
Over medium heat put the shredded escarole into the frying pan and turn it in the hot bacon fat for a few minutes. You want it to take up the bacon fat and start to wilt a little, but don’t let it get soft – it should retain some crunch.
Add it to the mashed potatoes and mix well together, seasoning well to taste (pepper is important). Add a little of the reserved cooking water if the consistency is too stiff. Finally, add the lardons and give a final stir before serving.
Gravy is essential, and stampot is ideally suited to creating a small crater the better to absorb a great deal of gravy!
I would like to thank all those who have read, followed and cooked from this blog in its first year and wish you a happy and healthy 2016.