It is said that food in Belgium is served with the quantity of Germany and the quality of France. Besides the Belgian beer, here are our top five Belgian recipes to try.
The region which now constitutes Belgium has been invaded and ruled by many people over the centuries, including Celts, Romans, Franks (in 455 AD, at which time the demarcation between the Flemish and Walloons was established), Vikings, Spanish, Austrians and French. All these cultures have left their mark and the cuisine of Belgium is a true reflection of its history.
Current day Belgian cuisine still has its roots firmly planted in rustic medieval cookery. Spices, mustard, vinegars and beer are still widely used in savoury and sweet recipes. While there is a definite French touch to many recipes, the dishes are generally more substantial comfort foods.
Fresh herbs are also still extensively used, particularly chervil, tarragon, thyme, parsley and chives. It is said that Belgian food is served with the quantity of Germany and the quality of France.
Belgium is world-famous for its chocolate and beer, but other Belgian food draws travellers here as well, so don`t hesitate to try out something new. Here are some of the typical Belgian dishes for you to make and enjoy.
Some of recipe ingredients are In US measurements. For your convenience, you’ll find metric conversions at the end of this article.
Cream of Endive Soup
2 tbsp butter
2 Belgian endives, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
480ml/16oz fresh chicken stock
240ml/8oz single cream
Salt and white pepper
Freshly chopped chives to garnish
Heat the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the endive, onion and garlic, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Mix well, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft. Allow to cool a little, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Return the leek mixture to the saucepan. Add the milk, salt and pepper. Mix well and heat through gently. Serve hot or cold garnished with chopped chives.
450g/1lb haricots verts (slender green beans)
4 medium potatoes
150g/+5oz smoked streaky bacon, (preferably in one piece), diced
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped spring onions
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, place the beans in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until just tender.
While the potatoes and beans are cooking, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the bacon and fry for 5 minutes, turning from time to time. Add the wine vinegar to the frying pan and boil rapidly, scraping up any bits of bacon. Continue to boil until reduced by two thirds. Drain the cooked potatoes, then peel them and cut them into slices.
Drain the beans and arrange in a salad bowl. Place the potatoes around the outside, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and spring onions, then pour the diced bacon together with the vinegar over the top. Serve warm.
Stewed Rabbit with Prunes
225g/8oz pitted prunes
240ml/8oz hot water
3 tbsp plain flour
Salt and black pepper
8 rabbit portions
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
100g/4oz streaky bacon, cut into 2.5cm/1-inch pieces
2 onions, coarsely chopped
360ml/12oz Belgian sour beer (e.g. Rodenbach)
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves (Bay Laurel)
1 whole clove
Place the prunes in a large mixing bowl, pour the hot water over them and leave to soak for 1 hour. Season half the flour with salt and pepper and use to coat the rabbit pieces on all sides, shaking off any excess. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, add the rabbit pieces and brown on both sides. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside.
Add the bacon to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Return the rabbit pieces to the pan. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the meat and onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the meat from time to time. Gradually add the beer, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly between each addition. Then add the vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and clove. Mix well. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring from time to time.
Add the prunes, together with the water they were soaking in and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes until the meat is very tender. Serve hot.
Brussels Sprouts in Beer
450g/1lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
Approx 480ml/16oz dark beer
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp butter
Place the sprouts in a medium saucepan and pour in enough beer to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender, adding more beer if necessary. Drain well, then return to the pan. Season with salt and add the butter. Stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and coated the sprouts. Serve immediately.
Streusel Apple Tart
225g/8oz shortcrust pastry
For the topping:
75g/3oz brown sugar
75g/3oz plain flour
For the filling:
8 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Roll the pastry out to 6mm/1/4-inch thick and use to line a deep 20cm/8-inch flan tin.
For the topping: in a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles large breadcrumbs. Then stir in the sugar and mix well. Set aside.
For the filling: in another large mixing bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar then arrange over the pastry. Sprinkle with the topping mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190C/375/Gas mark 5. Continue to bake for a further 30 minutes, covering the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Serve hot or cold with cream or ice cream.
Cooking Measurement Conversions
1/8 tsp = .5 ml
1/4 tsp = 1 ml
1/2 tsp = 2.5 ml
1 tsp = 5 ml = 4.745 g
1 tbsp = 15 ml = 14.235 g
1/4 cup = 57.48 g
1/3 cup = 75.87 g
1/2 cup = 114.96 g
2/3 cup = 151.747 g
3/4 cup = 172.44 g
1 cup = 229.92 g
1 oz = 28.47 g
4 oz = 113.88 g
8 oz = 227.76 g
10 oz = 284.7 g
16 oz = 455.52 g
Baking Powder – 4.6g per tsp
Butter – 227g per cup
Flour – 125g per cup
Brown Sugar – 220g per cup
Vanilla Extract – 4.29g per tsp
Water – 237g per cup, 29.57g per oz