Hot Pickled Herring with Bacon and Endive Stamppot

Hot Pickled Herring with Stamppot

Today’s weather has been what I imagine it’s always like in the Low Countries in November. Cold, grey and with an all-pervasive wetness that alternates between rain and snow. This is stay inside and warm your soul weather; make simple comfort food weather. A nice oily fish cooked in a sweet-sour liquor and some flavourful simple Stamppot fits the bill.

“Stamp what?” I hear you ask. Stamppot is a Dutch dish that roughly translated means ‘mashed stuff’. It’s basically potatoes mashed with vegetables and sometimes bacon or sausage. Upon asking a friend of mine who worked in a restaurant in Amsterdam, he told me I could stick what I wanted in there, so long as the a base was mashed potatoes. I like this sort of unfussy eating, but I already had a good plan for what I would stamp in my pot.

I’d been given the idea for the dish when I was visiting the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. It’s a wonderful place, dedicated to raising awareness of healthy, seasonal and sustainable food. I’ll write more about it another day, but if you want a great day out I encourage you to go and visit. On the day I was there the farm stand was out and I couldn’t resist picking up some goodies. I got chatting to a Dutch lady in the line. She was buying up bacon ends and described Stamppot to me as her favourite thing to do with them. She liked to eat hers with some sweet pickled herring. By chance I had bought herring this week from P.E & D.D. seafoods, so the fate of this meal was sealed. I grabbed the last bag of bacon ends and on the way home picked up an endive per her suggestion.

deboning herring

Cooking herring in a hot pickle is a very simple affair. Using virtually the same preparation as for soused fish, the herring is lightly poached in a broth of vinegar, water and sugar. The only problem with herring is that it’s awash with tiny feathery bones and so you need to really invest a good few minutes pulling them out with tweezers before you start cooking. This may seem like a chore, but I found it to be curiously therapeutic. Despite best efforts a few hair-thin bones slipped through, but it was a darn site better that had I not gone to the effort. And after all, with the weather gloomy and grey outside it wasn’t like I had better things to do!

making Hot Pickled Herring with Stamppot

Hot Pickled Herring
Serves 2
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Herring Fillets, deboned
  2. 3/4 cup Cider Vinegar
  3. 1/4 cup Water
  4. About two dozen Juniper Berries, lightly bruised
  5. A clove of Garlic, crushed
  6. A few Bay Leaves
  7. A couple of Tablespoons of Sugar
Instructions
  1. If the herring is not already deboned, spend some quality time on it using a pair of tweezers to gently pull out whisker-thing bones. You, and your guests will be grateful for the effort.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the fish in a pan just wide enough to hold the fish. Bring to a gentle simmer and let it bubble for a minute to let the flavours infuse and the sugar dissolve.
  3. Place the fish in, skin side up, and let simmer for two to five minutes (thicker pieces will take longer). Turn the heat off and leave in the pan for about another ten minutes until you're ready to serve. You can leave it longer if you like; just gently reheat when you are ready to eat.
  4. Serve with a little chopped dill if you have it to hand.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/
Bacon and Endive Stamppot
Basically mashed potatoes with vegetables and other good stuff in it - you can add whatever takes your fancy!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. A good handful of floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into rough 1" pieces
  2. About 1/2 - 1 cup Milk
  3. The same amount of Water
  4. A generous glug or three of Olive Oil
  5. A Bay Leaf
  6. A few rashers of bacon or some bacon ends, roughly chopped
  7. A small onion, thinly sliced
  8. An Endive, shredded
  9. A little Dill, finely chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put the potatoes in a small pan and cover with a 1:1 mixture of water and milk. You want the liquid to just cover the tatties. Add a slug or three of Olive Oil—be generous—a bay leaf and a good three-finger pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and have absorbed much of the liquid. Drain, saving any remaining liquid and mash the potatoes. If you like your mash a little looser, you can add back some of the cooking liquid. Your choice.
  2. Meanwhile, gently fry the bacon and onions over a low heat with a little drop of oil if the bacon is lean. When they're nice and brown and crispy, fold into the mashed potatoes along with the shredded endive and Dill. Taste for seasoning and serve with gloomy weather.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Pairing with Hot Pickled Herring and Stamppot

As I mentioned in my recipe for soused fish, Dill Aquavit would be a rather good tipple to enjoy with this dish. Should you inexplicably not have that in the house, a gin-based dish would also work well complimenting the juniper berries in the pickle. Failing that, a light beer would be very welcome.

Provenance

Herring: P.E. & D.D. Seafoods

Bay Leaves, Juniper Berries: Kalustyan’s

Cider Vinegar: Eden Organic

Potatoes: Paffenroth Gardens

Bacon: Stone Barns

Endive: Park Slope Food Coop

Onion: S & S.O. Produce
 

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