Updated: Jul 16, 2021
The best recipe for mashed potatoes! Just look to the Belgians.
Aneri's note: Another trip down memory lane! I lived in Belgium in 2010 on an internship program in the E.U. capital - Brussels.
My stay started off very rocky. As soon as I arrived in Brussels at the train station from the airport, my computer bag was stolen (cut off my bag). It was particularly traumatizing for me as this was my first paid work experience since getting my graduate degree nearly a year before. For someone to take my most valuable possessions (laptop, wallet, phone, passport, camera, etc) felt to me like kicking someone who was already down. Anyway, I digress. I was staying at house full of "trainees", the European word for intern, and everyone from all over the E.U. took a lot of pity on me and really helped me out on those weeks with money and food as I settled. I'll never forget their kindness or hospitality for a foreigner they had just met.
To be honest, I was never much of a foodie until the year I lived in Brussels. Natural, unprocessed, and organic inexpensive food is common, and I would purchase fresh mozzarella, Belgian dark chocolate, freshly baked bread, grapevine tomatoes, arbequina olives (small, brown with a nutty flavor), extra-virgin olive oil (it's better there trust), Nespresso, Hoegaarden on tap, and German Riesling on a regular basis. I managed to go through college and graduate school never once drinking beer (I always thought it was gross), and it wasn't until I lived in Belgium when I finally developed an appreciation for it. Belgium is known for its french fries (nothing French about it!), which are covered in ketchup, mayo, and onions. It was really good late night food!
It was also fascinating for me to learn about Belgium politics. When I was living there in 2010, Belgium did not have a head of state! This blew my mind. How can a country govern without a head of state? Apparently it was possible. I also learned that the government taxes all workers close to 50% of their income! My Brussels roommate joked, "I thought bad landlords and pickpockets were stealing my money…but it turned out it was the government all along”.
Christmas is wonderful in Europe. The Christmas markets are in full swing, mulled mead is everywhere, and there is more traditional charm than commercial charm in the air. Thus I was stunned when I came across Belgian men dressed in blackface. According to the legend of Sinterklaas from the 1800s, Saint Nicholas is originally from. Turkey, who in fighting with the devil, shackled him and turned him into his “slave” named Zwarte Piet. Naturally, the slave resembles an African. I was really surprised that a story written in colonialist Europe is still accepted today. Especially the fact that Zwarte Piet is supposed to be “a bit slow and unintelligent”. According to legend, if the kids are good, Sinterklaas will reward them with sweets, but if they are naughty Zwarte Piet will come and beat them up. But as with most stories, they evolve. So instead of being Santa’s “slave”, Zwarte Piet is now a slave that was “liberated” by Saint Nicholas, who out of his own will decided to freely serve him for freeing him. Some people try to cover it up and say he’s not black at all, it’s just his face is black from chimney soot when delivering presents.
I wrote a top 10 favorite things about Belgium list when I was living there that I managed to find:
1. Curry mayonnaise
2. Incredibly reliable public transport in all forms (buses, trams, metro)
3. The European-ess of Brussels…everyone comes from a different country in the EU
4. Belgian Hoegaarden and Kreik - Prost!
5. Belgian chocolate
6. Sablon quarter – (cute chocolatiers, cafes, and narrow streets)
7. Daily Nespresso
8. The ease of meeting new people and easily making new friends
9. Winters without a single breeze of wind
10. Brussels is like the last European city people would consider living in, but once you are there, you never want to leave.
Difficulty level (1-10): 4
You thought I was going to do waffles, didn’t you? Well to be honest I would have if I had a waffle maker, but I don’t so Stoemp is the next best! These Belgian mashed potatoes might be the best version of mashed potatoes! This dish often has bacon, but it’s not necessary to be considered authentic.
Potatoes - 2 LB
Brussel Sprouts - 10 oz, sliced
Leeks - 2, washed and cut into rings
Salt - 1 TB
Veg broth - 1 cup
Nutmeg - 1 pinch
Heavy cream - 2/3 cup
Unsalted butter - 3 TB
Pepper - to taste
1. Boil potatoes, drain, and mash. I used an Instant Pot, which I pressure cooked for 5 minutes with the vent locked.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the leeks and sprouts and slice them into rings
3. Melt the butter in a large pan and add leek slices and Brussel sprouts. Add broth, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 min. Scoop out the vegetables and add to the potatoes.
5. Reheat the remaining sauce until it becomes thicker, then add on top of the potatoes and mix to combine again and enjoy!
This recipe was influenced by food.com and the foreign fork.
Want more recipes from Belgium? Here are my recommendations!
Classic Belgian food veganized!
And Belgian waffles because duh and if you have a waffle maker, go make this!