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Boerenkool recipe nets hospital cook World Cup title

Event promotes old-Dutch cuisine

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GRONINGEN, the Netherlands

- Hospital cook Hans Thijs has won the 2004 World Championship Hotchpotch-cooking with a traditional Dutch dish he often serves in wintertime to patients and staff at a Purmerend health care facility. The competition was held at the annual World Cup Pea Soup Cook-Off, staged in the northern city of Groningen.

Next to pea soup (erwtensoep in Dutch, and popularly known as snert), a hotchpotch is the most common one-pan meal in the Netherlands and for the Dutch abroad. The word hotchpotch most likely has its roots in the old Dutch term hutspot, the name for yet another potatoes-and-vegetables (meat is optional) dish dating back many, many centuries. Hutspot is forever linked to the city of Leiden where on October 3, 1574, the months-long siege of the city was broken by flooding the countryside which drove the Spanish troops away. Relief supplies for the starving and decimated population arrived in the form of potatoes and onions, whitebread and herring. Till this day, ‘Leiden’s Relief’ is celebrated throughout the city with people serving hutspot and haring-en-wittebrood.


Boerenkool (kale-and-potatoes) perhaps is the most-popular one of the hotchpotch variety of dishes. Other such recipes include a potatoes-and-endive dish and one which mixes potatoes and sauerkraut. All of these dishes are easy to make and very filling, and favourites in Fall and wintertime.

Thijs who has worked for 35 years at the Waterland Hospital in Purmerend, a town just north of Amsterdam, did not change his time-honoured recipe for the World Cup Cook-Off, although he did not divulge his exact ingredients. The recipe may be one of his favourites professionally, Thijs does not like hotchpotch himself.

Dutch only?

While boerenkool proved to be the winning dish, other participants at the cook-off presented a range of potatoes-and-vegetables recipes, including one with shredded red cabbage. In Dutch kitchens, red cabbage usually is combined with stewed pears, apples or applesauce. Some cooks added ‘uncommon’ items to time-honoured recipes, such as shredded smoked eel and Indonesian red pepper sauce.

Mr. Thijs’ basic recipe calls for welldone potatoes which then are steamed dry, kale which is dried as well, butter, salt, pepper, mustard, bacon bits and pearl onions.

The winning dish at the Hotchpotch Cook-Off almost did not reach the jury. Visitors at the event had sampled so much of Thijs’ food that he only had a bit left for the jury. It proved to be enough for First Prize in a championship that perhaps only the Dutch can truly appreciate.

One recipe for Boerenkool, as well as other traditional Dutch recipes, can be found in the cookbook ' Let's Go Dutch', available from Vanderheide Publishing, at US$14.50/Can$19.95 plus s/h and taxes where applicable. Phone 1-800-881-0705 to order or visit our catalogue website at Other delicious recipes are also available in the cookbook 'Let’s Go Dutch Again