fortified mash: dutch escarole potatoes with sausage

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One can’t help but be delighted with Dutch mashed potatoes. They like mashed foods in general, and I’m not sure I’m fully supportive of that instinct, but I do endorse the will to survive the winter by adding nutritious produce to a potato base, good crops like hearty greens or carrots. Why not? It completely changes the character from bland to either sweet or crunchy or slightly bitter, and this makes mashed potatoes worth eating in my book.

With our winter CSA producing several wonderful chicory crops, I knew I’d have to run home and try one of the more popular combinations: leafy escarole and mashed potatoes (Foeksandijvie or Andijviestamppot) served with sausage.

The Dutch Table, a wonderful Dutch cooking blog in English, sets out the basics here. The escarole, which looks a bit like romaine lettuce, is shredded and added to the cooked potatoes raw. I really like the simplicity of the traditional Dutch method — no milk or butter is added, just the potatoes and the leafy greens. The Dutch Table offers a buttermilk-salt pork gravy to go with the foeksandijvie, and I’ve seen a range of interpretations of the dish that include bacon or other cured meat studding the potatoes, or perhaps even mushrooms, or maybe a bit of cheese. Usually, the salted water used for cooking the potatoes is reserved and added back when one is mashing for creaminess.

I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and bake my sausage in a bit of water before frying it. That way, the sausage provides its own stock that can be used to flavor side dishes. First, I boiled the raw Italian sausages in a 350-degree oven in a Pyrex dish in about a half-inch of water until firm.

As the sausages were cooking, I shredded and chopped a fine, delicious head of sugarloaf escarole from Open Oak Farm.

Then, I peeled 4-5 nice-sized Yukon Gold potatoes (the Dutch use floury russet-types but I didn’t have any), cooked them until soft in salted water, then mashed them with a bit of the sausage water and some salt and white pepper.

After mashing the potatoes, I added the raw escarole and mashed some more. Then I quickly fried up the boiled sausages and served the dish in bowls with the drippings deglazed with sausage water poured on top. It’s a wonderful winter meal. Try it!

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