Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Dutch Hotchpotch (Hutspot)


Serves 4:

  • 500g lean boneless beef flank
  • 1kg potatoes, sliced
  • 800g carrots, diced
  • 500g onions, finely chopped

What did the Dutch eat before they discovered the greenhouse in the seventeenth century? Obviously the climate confined them to vegetables which to some extent were able to resist the severe winters. Such as cabbage, beetroots and carrots. Here you will get aquainted with our national dish ‘hutspot’: nowadays a stew of potatoes, carrots, onions, with a piece of thin flank of oxen. Its name is a gift to the English language where ‘hotchpotch’ has got the meaning of ‘mishmash’, ‘medly’. A heartbreaking story is connected with the emergence of this dish:

During the siege by the Spaniards in 1574, the majority of the population of the city of Leiden got so hungry that they even ate rats. They urged the mayor to surrender whereupon he replied : ‘No my friends, rather eat me’. The inhabitants of Leyden were so impressed by this answer that they held out until they were freed by the ‘Watergeuzen’, a kind of Dutch resistance force, on the 3rd of October. As a reward they were treated to herring and whitebread by their liberators. And ever since, until this very age, Leyden eats herring and whitebread on the 3rd of October.. And hutspot. History and cookery – they cannot be separated …

According to oral tradition the fleeing Spaniards left something behind: a cooking pot with a remainder of hutspot in it. The ravenous Leyden people discovered it and ever since have propagated this dish as something too delicious to describe.

See also And Furthermore about this dish.

  • Put the beef in a pan, add the salt and pour in 300ml/1⁄2 pint/11⁄4 cups water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours, until tender.
  • Remove the beef from the pan. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to the pan and place the beef on top. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Pour off the cooking liquid and reserve. Remove the beef and cut into slices. Mash the vegetables and potatoes, adding a little of the cooking liquid. Season with salt to taste and pile on to plates. Top with the meat and serve immediately.

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