No real fancy recipe this time, just a personal trip down memory lane. A typically Dutch winter dish is called ‘hutspot‘. I grew up with it, just smelling it brings back memories of days long gone. The almost forgotten scents of my childhood.
Hutspot is a simple, nourishing dish made from boiled potatoes, carrots and onions. Everything is boiled in one big pot and coarsely mashed up. Spiked with pepper and served with lots of gravy, beef (stew) or smoked sausage and, not to forget, real bacon bits.
Now imagine my excitement when I recently happened upon this recipe in a magazine. It’s very similar to our traditional hutspot, only with a modern twist (and lots of cheese:). Another bonus is the fact it’s a pretty cheap and easy dinner that even most kids will like.
Made it, tweaked it, love it and am sharing it.
1 1/2 pounds potato
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 or 2 large onions
1 cup of milk
2 cloves garlic
1 pound carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Optional: 1 tsp dried parsley
Preheat your oven to 400 (200C)
Get your knife sharpener out! We’ll be doing lots of cutting so you’re gonna need a razor sharp knife. I could cheat and do this with the slicer that came with my food processor, but I’ll be a good sport! Peel the potatoes and slice them wafer thin, as thin as you can. Go for waxy potatoes that will hold their shape.
Once the potatoes are sliced, rinse them – I always keep them in a bowl of cold water until everything else is done. It will not only keep them from discoloring, but it also removes the surface starch.
The bright orange is too gorgeous! Be still my heart! Peel the carrot(s) and slice them as thin as you can.
I have an onion addiction. I just try and sneak them into almost anything. I like them raw, cooked, stir-fried, deep-fried, caramelized, really can’t get enough of them. I’ve used two large onions for my gratin, but you can also do this with just one. Thinly slice them.
Grab a bowl, measure one cup of milk and pour it in. Add two eggs and 2 grated garlic cloves.
Herbal seventh heaven. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp mustard powder and 1/4 tsp white pepper. You want to pop the egg yolks, don’t you? C’mon, admit it!
Now this is completely optional, it’s not gonna add any flavor, merely a hint of color contrast. But boy, it sure looks pretty in the bowl so I’ve added 1 tsp dried parsley. Give everything a good stir.
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Grab an oven dish and lightly grease it. Now start layering.
Once you’ve layered about half of the ingredients, pour half of the milk/egg mix on top. It looks like some sort of bizarre noodle soup, doesn’t it? Sway the oven dish a little to make sure the liquids are evenly divided.
Layer the other half of your ingredients, pour the rest of the milk over it and finish with 1/2 cup (or a little more) grated cheese.
I’m using a meat we call ‘slavinken‘. It’s simply seasoned ground beef wrapped in bacon, that’s all. You can do this with sausages as well. Just cut them up in thick slices.
Place them on top of the cheese. I ended up using only 2 slavinken and later on noticed I should have used all three of them. They shrink when they’re cooked, go figure. That’s what I get for being cheap!
Put the dish in the oven for 60 minutes. Keep an eye on it, if near the end you feel the cheese is turning too brown, you can put a little foil on top and that will stop the browning. Use a fork to check the gratin for readiness.
Different generations, different preparations, but I will always relive the past through the foods I eat. It may not be the most stylish dish to prepare or serve, but it sure reminds me of my mom and grandma. Memories I’ll cherish forever until I meet them again.