The Netherlands loves to showcase the amazing skills their artisan food makers possess, and is proud of its many producers. Today's recipe is based on an award-winning dish from Butcher Gerard Koekman of Nieuwegein, who won the competition for best oven casserole several years ago. It pairs ground beef with bacon, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and Dutch cranberries. Now, wait a minute! Dutch cranberries? Yup. Read on.
Several of those berries caught on and soon the island of Terschelling, on the northern Dutch coast, was growing cranberries. The tart fruit never made it much further than jam, sauce or beverage material, but nevertheless it's something to be proud of.
Fast forward to right around now. Butcher Koekman found an old recipe from the Cranberry barn on Terschelling, adjusted it to his liking and hey presto! won the national casserole competition and eternal fame. The dish is called "siepeltjespot" and is presumably an old-fashioned dish from the Terschelling island. It's quick to make, and is a very comforting dish: the smokyness of the bacon, the sauerkraut and the sweetness of the cranberry compote go beautifully with the creamy mashed potatoes. We did a bit of adjusting of our own, and it's a winner alright!!
5 slices of smoky bacon
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz sauerkraut
1 cup cranberry compote*
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt
Dice the bacon and slowly render it in a skillet. Remove but one tablespoon of fat. Add the ground beef and the small onion to the bacon in the skillet and brown the beef. Season to your liking. In the meantime, peel, quarter and boil the potatoes. When done, pour off the water, and mash the taters with the butter and the milk. Add a pinch of salt. Adjust the amount of milk if needed.
Add a thin layer of mashed potatoes to the bottom of a casserole dish. Put the ground beef on top (drain any fat previously!). Squeeze any juice from the sauerkraut and distribute it evenly on top. Spread the cranberry compote over the sauerkraut and top with the rest of the mashed potatoes.
Bake the casserole in a 350F oven for thirty minutes. After twenty minutes, dot the potatoes with little flecks of butter and bake the casserole until the top is golden brown. You may broil it for some extra golden goodness!
* This is a great opportunity to use up your leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you are caught without, boil three cups of cranberries in a cup of water, three tablespoons of sugar, a sprig of rosemary, two garlic