Dutch cuisine does not have a great reputation like Italian or French cuisine, but the comfort food Hutspot met Klapstuk can be taken to the next level by preparing it sous vide. Hutspot, literally hotch-potch, is carrot, onion, and potatoes, all boiled together and then mashed. By braising the onions in beef fat until slightly caramelized and cooking the carrots and potatoes sous vide, the flavor and texture are enhanced. In the traditional method, a lot of the flavor is literally poured down the drain when the cooking water is discarded after boiling the vegetables.
Klapstuk is the Dutch name for boneless beef short ribs, with the fat cap trimmed away. For this recipe you will need short ribs with the fat cap and ribs, because we will render the fat and use it to brown the beef and to braise the onions, and we will use the bones to make the gravy. (Many Dutch will prepare the gravy using instant gravy powder. Less work but also less flavor!)
By cooking the beef for 2 days at 68C/155F it will remain juicy and become very tender, as you can see in the photo above. If you are in a hurry, you can cook it for 1 day at 74C/165F instead. It will still be good, but a bit less juicy and a bit less tender than after 2 days at 68C/155F.
I’ve prepared this for a lot of Dutch friends, and they were all surprised at how good this dish was compared to the boring version they were used to!
For the meat it makes sense to prepare a large batch and freeze it in portions that only need to be reheated, because short ribs are often sold in large quantities (at least here in the Netherlands) and because of the long cooking time.
- 3 kilos (6.6 lbs) beef short ribs with bones (this will yield about 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) of meat after deboning and trimming)
- 15 grams salt (about 2 generous teaspoons table salt)
For the hutspot
- 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs) potatoes, peeled and julienned
- 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs) carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1.25 kilos (2.8 lbs) onions, chopped
- beef fat from making the stock for the gravy (see below)
- salt to taste
For the gravy
- the bones of the short ribs
- bit of olive oil
- rendered beef fat
- 150 grams (1 1/2 cups) each of chopped carrot, onion, and celery
- 3 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 250 ml (1 cup) red wine
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
The first step is to trim away the fat cap from the short ribs with a sharp knife. You could also ask your butcher to do this for you, but make sure to ask to include the fat trimmings with your order, as you will need them to render the fat from to sear the beef.
Trim away the fat and basically everything that doesn’t have a red color, but it is no big deal if some small patches of white are left behind.
First cut the slab of short ribs into individual ribs, then separate the meat from the ribs by slicing along the bone.
You will end up with ‘clean’ beef, fat, and bones (with some meat attached).
Cut the meat into portions and season them with salt on all sides. Use 1% of salt by weight for this, so 15 grams of salt for 1,500 grams of (trimmed) meat. Allow the salt to penetrate into the meat overnight in the refrigerator (you can skip this step if you are in a hurry). I vacuum seal the meat before placing it in the refrigerator because that way I find it easier to fit it into the refrigerator, but you could also place the meat on a plate or bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, or place it in a plastic container with a cover.
Vacume seal the fat trimmings and cook those sous vide for 8 hours at 85C/185F, or 24 hours at 74C/165F. This will render the fat and it is most efficient to do this together with something else that needs to be cooked sous vide at the same temperature.
Rub the ribs thinly with olive oil (or even better: rendered beef fat).
Roast the ribs for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 190C/375F in an oven dish or on a roasting tray. Roasting the ribs will give the gravy more depth of flavor.
Clean the onion, carrot, and celery for the gravy, and chop them roughly. Place them in a stock pot or pressure cooker.
Add the roasted ribs to the stock pot or pressure cooker. Do not clean the dish used for roasting the ribs, as the drippings contain a lot of flavor.
Bring a litre (4 cups) of water to a boil and deglaze the roasting try with the boiling water.
Use a wooden spatula to scrape all the flavor from the roasting tray.
Add this water to the stock pot or pressure cooker. Add more water if needed to barely cover everything. Add 2 bay leaves and 3 fresh thyme sprigs.
Cover the stock pot, bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 5 hours. If using a pressure cooker, bring to pressure and pressure cook for 2.5 hours.
Filter the beef stock. The fat will float on top.
It is easier to remove the fat if you allow the stock to cool off first (first to room temperature and then in the refrigerator.
Remove the fat, and reserve it to cook the onions.
After removing the fat, pour the beef stock into a low and wide pan.
Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, to reduce the stock.
Remove any impurities that will float on the surface now and then with a skimmer. Allow the stock to reduce to about 1/4 litre (1 cup).
Remember the fat that you cooked sous vide for 8 hours at 85C/185F or 24 hours at 74C/165F? The fat will have rendered out.
Filter the contents to separate the liquid fat (and some meat juices) from the solids. Allow the fat to cool off (first to room temperature and then in the refrigerator).
The solid part of the fat will have fallen apart from the cooking. After the filtering it will still contain enough fat to cook it in a frying pan without adding any additional fat. You don’t have to discard the solids, but can turn it into a nice pasta sauce by cooking it with with tomatoes, onion, etc.
To summarize what we have made thus far: reduced beef stock that was made using the ribs; rendered fat (which has become nicely white when chilled) with some meat juices underneath, and the salted meat. Allowing the salt to penetrate into the meat overnight is not only good for the flavor, but it also helps to keep the meat moist when it is cooked. (The fat that was taken from the top of the stock is not in the photo.)
Pat the meat dry with kitchen paper. Drying the meat is important to be able to brown it nicely.
Allow the rendered fat to melt in a frying pan. (The fat from the stock is not as pure and less suitable for browning the meat because it would splatter and burn, but perfect for browning the onions.) You may not need all of the fat that was rendered, and can reserve any leftover fat for another use. It is perfect for searing steaks.
Sear the meat on all sides over high heat. Do this in batches, to avoid overcrowding the frying pan. That way, any moisture that comes out of the meat can evaporate easily and so the meat will fry rather than boil.
The meat should be nicely browned on all sides, but still raw on the inside (as otherwise there is no use in cooking it sous vide).
Take the meat out of the pan as soon as it is nicely browned and place it on a plate to cool off (first to room temperature, then in the refrigerator). Do not clean the pan after searing the meat, because it will contain a lot of flavor.
Deglaze the pan with 250 ml of red wine.
Use a wooden spatula to include all browned bits that are stuck to the bottom.
Add a bay leaf.
Allow the wine to reduce to half.
Add the previously reduced beef stock…
…as well as (solidified) beef juices left from rendering the fat.
Allow to reduce to about 200 ml (a bit less than 1 cup). The beef gravy is now ready.
Pour the gravy into a container when it is still warm and allow to cool, first to room temperature and then in the refrigerator. (If you allow it to cool in the pan, a lot of it will remain in the pan.) You can see in the photo how solid the liquid has become (due to the high gelatin content). This will make it easy to vacuum seal the meat with the gravy.
Vacuum seal the (chilled) meat with the (chilled) gravy.
Cook the meat for 48 hours at 68C/155F (timing is not exact; a few hours more or less does not make a noticeable difference).
After this you can chill the meat and freeze it, and defrost and reheat it directly from frozen in about 90 minutes at 68C/155F (or about 1 hour if defrosted first).
To make the hutspot, allow the fat that floated on top of the stock to melt in a frying pan over medium heat. Do not use high heat to reduce the splattering.
Add the chopped onions as soon as the fat has melted and most of the splattering has finished. Season with salt (by adding salt now, it is easier to allow the onion to become golden and remain soft).
Fry the onion over medium heat until it is soft and golden. Stir regularly to prevent the onion from becoming crispy. This will take 15 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can peel and cut the carrots and potatoes into julienne (strips). I used my food processor to cut the julienne.
Turn off the heat as soon as the onion is golden, and then add the carrots and potatoes.
Stir to mix.
Place this mixture into plastic bags when it is still warm (as otherwise too much of the fat will remain behind in the pan), but allow the contents to cool off before vacuum sealing. Make sure that after vacuum sealing the bags are not too thick (not more than 2.5 cm/1 inch), as otherwise more time will be needed for cooking. Cook the hutspot sous vide at 85C/185F for 2 to 3 hours, depending on your preference. After 2 hours the carrot will have more bite, after 3 hours it will be soft.
If you only own one sous vide appliance, you can cook the hutspot sous vide before the meat, and then chill it and store it in the refrigerator. You can then reheat it with the meat for about 1 hour before serving.
To finish the dish, open the bag with the meat and pour the gravy into a saucepan. The gravy will have thinned out from the juices that were released by the meat. Stir some cornstarch with cold water until smooth and then add that to the gravy.
Bring to a boil, stirring. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the gravy with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Turn off the heat or use very low heat, and place the meat in the hot gravy. Turn and baste it a few times, such that the meat will be covered with the gravy on all sides. Cover the pan. Make sure the gravy will not boil, because that would dry out the meat.
Preheat a pot over low heat and transfer the hutspot from the bag to the pot.
Mash the hutspot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve the hutspot with the meat and gravy on preheated plates.
The braised klapstuk with gravy is great with full bodied but velvety red wines from a warm climate that were aged in oak. I’ve tried six different wines with the dish, and none of them were a bad pairing with the dish. The 2010 Ch?teauneuf-du-Pape by Chapoutier and the 2014 Touriga Nacional from the Douro region were the least favorable pairings, as they were a bit too fresh. The best combinations were the 2016 Fonte Mouro, a blend of Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet from Alentejo in Portugal, and the 2009 Piedra Platino Toro Reserva (made from Tempranillo). Almost as good were the 2011 Remelluri Rioja Riserva (mostly Tempranillo) and the 2016 Avi Sangiovese di Romagna Riserva by SanPatrignano (from Romagna in Italy).