Sunday, 11 November 2007

Stamppot Boerenkool - Kale & Sausage Mash

Now here's a good, hearty peasant dish for the winter. It comes from Holland, which is after all famous for its peasants - thank you Pieter Breugel. Peasant food is often great stuff - hearty, filling, inexpensive, easy to make and in this case lip-smackingly good.

I'm sure there is a traditional smoked sausage that is normally used, but I use whatever I can get my hands on and so far it's all been good. Kielbasa, smoked German sausages or even Portuguese chorizo are what I can find easily around here. All are good - this is comfort food at its finest. My sweetie is not fond of kale, but this is a dish that will get it into him with no complaints.

4 servings
45 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Stamppot Boerenkool - Kale and Sausage Mash900 grams (2 pounds) potatoes
2 medium onions
2 bay leaves
450 grams (1 pound) smoked sausage
1 small head of kale OR half of a large head
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
salt & pepper
nutmeg (optional)
2 tablespoons vinegar (optional)

Scrub the potatoes, and trim off any bad spots. Peel them if you like, but I don't bother. Cut them in chunks. Peel the onions, and cut them in chunks. Put the potatoes, onions, bay leaves and a pinch of salt into a large pot and cover with water. Add the sausage on top, either whole or cut up. Bring to a boil and boil gently until the potatoes are tender; about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the kale and strip the tender green parts from the stems. Chop the leaves fairly finely, and discard the tough stems. When the potatoes have about 5 or 10 minutes to go, add the kale to the pot.

Once everything is done, drain the pot and remove the bay leaves. If the sausage has been left whole, remove it and set it aside for the moment. Get out your handy potato-masher and mash the potatoes and kale (and sausage if you sliced it) together. Mix in the butter or bacon fat and the milk and vinegar, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Watch the salt - it will depend on how salty your sausage is.) You can use a little nutmeg as well if you think it will go with your particular sausage.

The traditional Dutch way is to mash the potatoes and kale quite smooth, then slice the sausage and serve it on top. I tend to just mash everything coarsely together, including the sausages which I do slice before putting in the pot. It's easier - not that the other way is complicated - and the flavour of the sausage gets more through the vegetables. Also I like having identifiable pieces of veg.

Traditionally this is served with vinegar (maybe not if you have already added some) and mustard for the sausage.

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