Hutspot is a dish made from mashed potatoes, carrots and onions that is one of the staples of traditional Dutch cuisine.
What is the origin of hutspot?
According to the legend, the recipe has its origins during the Eighty Years’ War. The Eighty Years’ War or Eighty Years’ War, was the rebellion of the United Provinces against Spanish rule, which turned into a conflict that lasted from 1568 to 1648.
Pieces of baked potatoes left behind left hastily by the Spanish soldiers during their siege of Leiden, a city in the Netherlands in the province of South Holland, in 1574, during the Eighty Years’ War, are at the origin of this recipe.
When the liberators breached the dikes protecting the polders that surrounded the city, it flooded all the fields around the city with about one foot of water. As there were virtually no high points, the Spanish soldiers encamped in the fields fled in haste, the majority of them being swept away by the water.
So in 1574, when these dikes on the edge of Leiden were breached and the Spaniards withdrew, the starving Dutch plundered their camp in search of food. There, they discovered large pots filled with vegetable porridge that would soon be known as hutspot.
Originally, there was no potato in the dish, but parsnip, which the Dutch call pastinaak..
Even though the Dutch are very proud of this quintessentially Dutch dish today, they owe it, once again, like the bitterballen, to the Spaniards.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the potato became so popular that it began to completely replace parsnip in the hutspot.
The anniversary of this event, known as Leidens Ontzet, is still celebrated every October 3 in Leiden and among Dutch expatriates around the world. Traditionally, the celebration consists of consuming hutspot everywhere.
How to serve hutspot
The mixture, which is mashed, should be coarse and not reduced to a smooth purée.
The hutspot can be served and enjoyed as is, and will delight the taste buds of all vegetarians, but many Dutch people cook it with klapstuk. The klapstuk is a cut of beef located at the rib section.
It is marbled with fat and is perfect for the slow cooking of the hutspot. Besides klapstuk, smoked bacon or smoked pork sausage are also often used to accompany this mash.
Accompanied by bacon, the hutspot resembles stoemp (or stamppot), a popular dish in Brussels cuisine consisting of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables and bacon.
In the Netherlands, tradition has it that carrots known as Winterpeen, meaning winter carrots, are used, which gives the dish its distinctive flavor that ordinary carrots could not.
The carrot improves visual abilities at night and above all it makes people friendly. But the carrot was not born orange.
Indeed, it was in Holland in the 16th century that varieties of carrots were crossed to create the orange carrot, making it the perfect gift for the prince of the Orange dynasty. The color orange was not at all random: it was specially obtained by Dutch researchers, as a tribute to the royal home, the House of Orange.
Contrary to popular belief, carrots aren’t just orange: there are white, purple, red and yellow varieties. Oddly enough, the earliest cultivated carrots, in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, were purple.
The evidence shows that the first carrot crops developed in the Middle East. Their entry into Western markets is attributable to the Greeks and Romans, who discovered them and imported them directly from there.
Initially, carrots were not eaten by humans: they were considered too hard to be edible, so they were only used as fodder for animals, especially for cattle, horses and pigs, or for medicinal purposes.
The orange carrot was therefore created around 1700 in Holland, thanks to a genetic mutation. The quality thus obtained was easier to cultivate.
As this new orange carrot was much nicer to eat than its purple or white ancestor, it found its place on the Prince’s tables, before being exported to the world.
- 2 lb potatoes starchy, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1½ lb carrots cut into large chunks
- 1 lb white onions thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup milk hot
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- Pepper freshly ground
- Place the potatoes, carrots, bay leaf and onions in a Dutch oven and cover with water to level. Season with salt and mix.
- Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over medium heat for 25 minutes.
- Drain, remove the bay leaf and add all the rest into a large bowl.
- Using a potato masher, coarsely mash all of the mixture.
- Add the butter, milk, nutmeg and pepper. Mix.
- Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve.