Thanksgiving in the Netherlands

Thanksgiving in the Netherlands

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The Dutch have more ties to the first Thanksgiving than you might realize

Traces of the first Pilgrims can still be found in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Although most Americans wouldn’t know it, Thanksgiving Day is important for the Dutch. You might remember from your history lesson, but before heading to North America, the Pilgrims actually landed in Leiden in the Netherlands (where they ended up staying for 11 years).

Click here to see the Thanksgiving Holidays Around the World Slideshow!

Today in Leiden, there is an annual Thanksgiving Celebration held at the Pieterskerk (see above), a Gothic church in the city where one of the Pilgrim leaders, John Robinson, is buried. Additionally, Leiden is home to the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. This small establishment recreates 16th- and 17th-century furnishings from the time of the Pilgrims.

Locals and tourists can find traditional Thanksgiving meals throughout the country on the third Thursday of every November. Restaurants like the Hard Rock Café, as well as several American associations, host traditional meals with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, and dressing.

Wanting to add a traditional Dutch dish to your Thanksgiving meal? Consider stamppot, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale.

Slow-Braised Dutch Oven Turkey Breast with Rich Herb Gravy

After the rush of Thanksgiving has passed, most folks forget about turkey for another year. Not in Today's Home Kitchen. The Holiday cooking season has just started and turkey will be served for days to come. We wait for the initial push to pass so now we share our Slow-Braised Turkey Breast with Rich Herb Gravy.

History of Dutch Food

Dutch cuisine like other European Cuisine is a product that has been formed based primarily on available products. Much of it has been shaped by its great availability to seafood products and local farming to a lesser degree. Dutch food has also been shaped by the earlier times when they were a larger seafaring nation both colonizing other areas and bringing back spices to the Netherlands. Since most of the former traditional Dutch Recipes were plain this was a happy change for them.

Most traditional Dutch Recipes are simple “Meat and Vegetable” consumers served with bread and wine. The diet also makes use of the abundant types of dairy products, especially cheese. During the 1300s to 1500s when the Dutch were colonizing and exploring the diet began to change and expand. The Dutch East Indies company and its colonies began bringing in more people and recipes from the colonies and the diet became more international.

Pennsylvania Dutch-Style Potato Filling

A staple of Pennsylvania Dutch country, potato filling is a side dish built with butter – and more butter. Consider yourself warned. The dish is also something of a carb hog, injecting the autumnal flavors of traditional Thanksgiving stuffing into mashed potatoes. As such, you likely won’t need another potato dish on the holiday table, unless it’s the sweet variety.

Make Ahead: The filling can be assembled and refrigerated a day in advance.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.


Melt 12 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the celery and onion cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned at the edges.

Add the bread pieces cook for about 10 minutes, stirring gently, until they absorb the butter in the pan and their crusts have slightly crisped. Be careful not to burn the onion, which will be somewhat caramelized and turn a deeper shade of brown. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by an inch or two. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to the water bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender, then drain and return them to the pot. Mash them gently, then immediately fold in the milk, egg, the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of salt, stirring until the butter has melted.

Add the bread mixture to the pot, along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir until incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish or casserole bake (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges start to brown and pull away from the sides of the dish.

Invented in Europe, perfected in America

Regardless of who lays claim to the invention of the Dutch oven, colonial America was where the Dutch oven not only caught on, but evolved to suit a unique set of needs.

Likely inspired by the combination of adventure and ingenuity that were hallmarks of the early American experience, the Dutch oven saw numerous improvements in colonial times. One of the major breakthroughs supposedly can be credited to a Bostonian primarily known for his exploits on horseback. Paul Revere, who spent some time as an artisan trying to improve the casting process, appears to have improved the Dutch oven by giving it three legs to stand on, as well as a flat top that could hold coals and thereby heat food a little more quickly and evenly.

That&aposs why you may recall Revere Ware as a (now-defunct) maker of Dutch ovens, a brand whose roots go all the way back to the Paul Revere & Sons company of the 1790s. 

The exploration of America arguably wouldn&apost have been the same without the Dutch oven, either. The intrepid Lewis and Clark brought this cookware with them on their westward journeys, and the duo supposedly held onto the Dutch oven once they&aposd settled down. Ranchers, homesteaders, and other open-country rabble-rousers made frequent use of them to the point that Dutch ovens with legs and a handle for hanging over an outdoor fire were often known as cowboy ovens. 

Dutch Apple Pie

    1) In a large bowl, toss together the apples with the sugar, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla and set aside for 15 minutes.

2) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, brush the surface of the pie crust with a beaten egg. Place the pie plate on a foiled lined baking sheet and set aside.

3) To make the topping, add all the topping ingredients to a bowl and using a pastry cutter cut the butter in the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4) To assemble the pie, gently gather handfuls of the apple mixture with your hands and squeeze out any excess moisture and place them in the prepared pie crust (discard all the liquid) then top with the coarse topping, pop it the oven (I like to bake my pies on the lower third rack in the oven) and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until deeply golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving.

NOTE: Just a quick mention that in the video I stated the oven temperature to be 350 degrees and I meant to say 375. Sorry about that, looks like I needed an extra cup of coffee that day!

Thanksgiving in the Netherlands - Recipes

We had a lot of people in for Thanksgiving this year. It was our first Thanksgiving in the new house, and I think Jodi kinda wanted to show it off a bit. I guess technically, it was the second, but last year, we had only been in the house about a week. No time to set up for a party.

My sister and bro-in-law came out and I spent a good time talking with them. They are both excellent cooks, and gave me some good advice. One of the problems I have with biscuits and soda bread is that it doesn’t rise like I want it to. She said that non-yeast leavening should be put into a hot oven. I usually just put things into the oven and then put them on the coals. I didn’t realize it would make a difference. They also had some good advice about the balance of wet and dry in breads.

You know, there are so many ways to do a turkey, and so many recipes it’s just amazing. I’ve been reading over on the dutch oven yahoogroup about all the ideas and methods and recipes, and it’s just amazing. While I’m giving thanks, I’ll give all my friends over there some good thanks for all their advice and help this last year.

I did the same herbal roast turkey that I did for Christmas last year, from Byron’s. I did it pretty much straight as he lists it. Still, I’ll include the recipe here. We also did one of that in the regular oven, because I could only fit a 13 lb turkey in my 14” Dutch oven. Then, in the 12” deep dutch oven, I did ham recipe of my own design. I’ll write the recipes up separate, even though I roasted them concurrently.

Byron’s Dutch Oven Herb Roasted Turkey

15-18 coals on top
24-28 coals below

• 1 onion quartered
• 3-4 slices bread (I used sourdough rye)
• 3 tbsp melted butter
• 12 bay leaf
• 2 Tsp minced garlic
• Salt
• Pepper (I like it coarse ground)

• 13 lb. turkey
• 2 more Tsp minced garlic
• Salt
• 1 cup water

OK, I started out with the turkey, and began by mixing the stuffing ingredients and removing the neck and giblets, and various pouches that the company sticks in the turkey. I’d kept it in the fridge to thaw for the last few days, and took it out early in the morning. I wanted to have it on the coals by 10, to get it on the table by 2:30 or 3:00, including carving time. A 13 lb turkey isn’t going to have very much room for stuffing so I didn’t really do that much. But I stuffed it in the body cavity and set the turkey in the 14” dutch oven. Then I rubbed the additional minced garlic onto the body and sprinkled some salt over it. Then, I added a cup of water to the dutch oven, for steaming, and closed it up. I put that on the coals.

• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 tsp. dried mint leaves
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp. dried sage
• 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
• 1/2 tsp. sweet basil
• 1 tsp. celery salt
• 1 tsp. salt

In the 8” dutch oven, I combined all of the basting sauce ingredients, and simply set that on top of the turkey dutch oven lid, using those upper coals to melt the butter and simmer the sauce.

From then on, it was simply a matter of keeping the coals fresh and basting the turkey occasionally. The total cooking time was about 4 hours.

• 7 medium potatoes sliced
• 2-3 carrots peeled & sliced

About an hour to an hour and a half from serving time, I sliced up the potatoes and the carrots and just dumped them in around the bird.

I didn’t bother with mashing the potatoes, I just served them alongside. Someone else in the family brought the mashed potatoes, anyway.

Some folks I’d been talking to mentioned that a dutch oven turkey doesn’t brown up like an oven-baked turkey. While that’s true, I found that this one did brown up quite nicely on top. I imagine that’s because of it’s proximity to the lid with coals on. I did try and keep the coals toward the edges rather than in the middle of the lid, so it wouldn’t burn.

Mark's Dutch Oven Honey Mustard Ham

12 coals below
14 coals above

• A medium-sized bone-in ham
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup deli mustard
• ½ cup soy sauce
• 8-10 whole cloves

I started by putting the ham in the dutch oven. I actually had to cut it up into chunks to make it fit, and one chunk is still in the fridge. This would have been better in my 14”, but that was being used by the turkey. I also sliced diagonals back and forth across the surface of the ham, to let the seasonings seep in.

I mixed all the other ingredients in a bowl, and then just smoothed that over the surface of the ham.

Then, I put that on the coals. There was a lot of liquid in the ham, so as I baked it, from time to time, I’d open up the dutch oven, scoop up the liquid, and baste it over the meat. I cooked the ham just as long as the turkey.

Keeping the heat on was tricky. I went through a LOT of coals. You have to watch the under coals, because it’s easy to pay attention to when the coals on top are burning down, but the ones on the bottom need to be replaced, too.

5 Thanksgiving Amish Farmhouse Vegetable Side Dishes

Those dreaded words. But do they have to be? SIGH, with all the other "good stuff" on the Thanksgiving table: turkey, stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes (those don't count), gravy, giblets, etc, it is so easy to skimp on the green beans. But a fresh vegetable dish can add some balance to any feast and the Amish are no different in that regard. Now, with veggies you will see a wide, wide spread among the Amish. In more conservative midwestern settlements you'll simply see a bowl of home-canned corn or green beans on the table. These vegetable dishes, while very, very simple, are still amazingly good. Now when you get into more progressive settlements or the Pennsylvania Dutch-influenced communities in the Keystone State, that is where you see your more elaborate vegetable dishes like corn pie and stuffed squash. Here are five vegetable winners for your table!

GLORIA'S DELICIOUS GREEN BEANS - This is a delicious green bean dish courtesy of The Amish Cook herself. Enjoy! Click here for the recipe.

DER DUTCHMAN'S MARINATED CARROTS: Hands-down the best carrot recipe I've ever eaten. I mean these carrots taste like candy. When we have fixed these in the past I have helping after helping and I don't really even care for carrots, but these are amazing. This recipe is what Der Dutchman, the chain of Amish-inspired midwestern restaurants, serves. Click here for the recipe and a winner for your Thanksgiving menu!

BETTY SCHROCK'S AMISH PEAS: I stumbled into this recipe while attending an Amish benefit meal in southern Ohio. Wow, peas. who would have thought peas could be THIS good? I was shoveling these in like they were candy also. Good stuff. Click here for the recipe!


1 large potato, peeled and chopped

15 ounces of drained whole kernel corn

15 ounces of cream-style corn

3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425. In saucepan over medium heat, stir together potato, corn, salt, pepper, and milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Press pie crust into a pie plate. Pour hot filling into the crust. Dot with butter. Add top crust and flute edges to seal. Cut a few steam vents in the top. Place pie on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake 30 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350 and cook 10 more minutes.

This next recipe comes to us from an Amish woman in Union Grove, North Carolina, one of the only Amish settlements in the Tarheel State and a very progressive one. I've written a lot about Union Grove and how it is very open to outsiders. It is a horse and buggy settlement,but the homes do have electricity causing some to name this settlement the "Electric Amish." The community also, not surprisingly, has cooking that features a southern flair. This recipe did not come with many instructions so I can't tell you how long to cook the squash (15 minutes at 425 might be about right)


Cook yellow summer squash in salted water until fairly soft. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the middle and mix it with chopped hard-boiled eggs,diced onion, and a bit of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Pile back into squash and bake until nicely browned.

Can you make a turkey in a Dutch oven?

As I mentioned above, if you want a juicy and moist turkey, you do not want to over cook it. This is the case if you roast your turkey in the oven or yes, over hot coals in a cast iron Dutch oven.

If you use a meat thermometer, you can insure that your turkey is done to perfection. Just slide it into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you do not hit bone. You want and internal temperature of 170°F.

But to guesstimate when your turkey is done, here’s a great rule of thumb to follow. Set your cooking time estimate at 13 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey. So for this recipe, I used a 10-pound turkey. My turkey should be done in about 2 hours.

You will need to replenish the hot coals every hour for however long you are roasting your turkey. So you see, it’s not an exact science on the cooking time as your old coals lose thunder and you replace them with fresh hot coals.

Use your visual cues of the tightening on the skin and whether the juice from the turkey runs clear or not. For crispy skin, place all the hot coals on top of the lid of your Dutch oven for the last 20-30 minutes.

You can also roast a turkey in a regular enamel Dutch oven at home, in the oven. The same rules apply here, too.

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Thanksgiving Recipes and Menus

Thanksgiving is one of the best excuses we have to get into the kitchen and prepare a special holiday meal for family and friends. The menu I posted is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Feast featuring turkey, a selection of 'sweets and sours' served at all large meals, typical PA Dutch side dishes and two of my family's favorite holiday pies, pumpkin and mincemeat. In addition to the menu, there is a section called Create Your Own Menu, providing starters, side dishes, breads and desserts that use ingredients commonly associated with fall or Thanksgiving. If desired, you can select a recipe as a substitute for a dish in my menu or design a menu from scratch to suit your tastes and needs.

Finally, there are links to turkey stock, a guide and tips for roasting turkey, suggestions for using leftovers and a general guide to planning and preparing a meal for any special occasion. Every recipe listed has links to alternate choices and, if you still do not find what you are looking for, you can use the search box above or browse through the Recipes, Features and Resources Index for hundreds more possibilities, including many other meat and poultry dishes appropriate for a celebration. You might also find something of interest on the Shared Recipes page, which contains more than 300 recipes shared by contributors.

Watch the video: 10 Steps For Making Thanksgiving Dinner in the Netherlands (May 2022).