Brussels sprouts, those little miniature green cabbages on a stalk, have been grown for centuries in Europe, reportedly brought in with the Romans, presumably grown in Brussels (hence the name), although the history is a bit lacking on the initial provenance of the vegetable. I guess even back then spruitjes weren't all that much to get excited over. It never deterred the Dutch, though. Whether you prefer them boiled, mashed, shredded..... the Dutch have a recipe for it. We love our spruitjes!
And why not? The good-natured sprout is chock-full of vitamin C. One cup of these lovely green leafy marbles provides you with one and a half times your daily value of vitamin C. I mean, really! That's more than an orange will give you any day.
And this wintry weather sure asks for plenty of vitamin C. Many of us are still trying to recover from a nasty cold *cough*. Another thing we can never get enough of is a good stamppot. Let's face it, it's the ultimate Dutch comfort food: a plate of steaming stamppot , whether it's hutspot, zuurkool, boerenkool or hete bliksem, has chased many a winter blues away. And today we're adding spruitjesstamppot to the list!
The key to spruitjes cooking is time: not too long, so as to maintain the amount of vitamins, but also to avoid the well-known "spruitjeslucht", the smell of overcooked sprouts. Mixed in with the vegetables, spruitjes lose some of their dreaded bitterness and become palatable even to the most fervent sprout-hater. And if it doesn't? Well, hey, more for you! ;-)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
4 fresh bratwurst
1 cup of water
1/2 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
2 lbs potatoes
1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Melt the butter in a skillet and fry the onions until golden brown. Take out of the skillet and set aside. Now fry the brats in the skillet until brown. Lower the heat, add the onions back in the pan. Add a cup of warm water, half a beef bouillon cube and a bay leaf to the pan, cover and let the meat simmer on the back burner.
In the meantime, peel, wash and quarter your potatoes. Wash the sprouts, cut the hard bottom end off if needed (after being cut off the stalk, the bottom end of the sprout will dry out and become hard) and cut the bigger sprouts in half. Put the potatoes, with a generous pinch of salt and just enough water to cover them, on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover with a fitting lid.
After ten minutes, add the Brussels sprouts on top of the potatoes, cover and boil for another ten minutes. Lift the lid and see it the potatoes are done - the sprouts should be bright green by now! If the potatoes are done (it should be easy to poke a fork right through the potato) and the sprouts seem tender as well, take the pan off the stove. Drain the cooking liquid but do not throw it away!
Mash your potatoes and sprouts - if you have a potato masher, that's great, if not just use a large fork. Blending or whipping potatoes in a mixer will turn the whole thing into a glue-like paste! Pour a quarter cup of cooking liquid into the mashed potatoes and fold in the liquid. Taste (careful, it's hot!!). Do you like the texture, or is it too crumbly? If you want it smoother, add another quarter cup of liquid and fold it in again. Also adjust your salt at this time.
Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a quarter cup of cold water and stir well. Take the brats and the onions out of the pan, bring the gravy to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry until the gravy thickens.
Serve a steaming plate of spruitjesstamppot, add a bratwurst and pour some onion gravy over it, and eet smakelijk!!