Balkenbrij -- Discover the Dutch Answer to Scrapple

Definition, Origin and Uses of Balkenbrij

Dutch Pork Head Pate - Balkenbrij
Balkenbrij (Dutch pork head pate). Photo © Rene Mesman

Definition and Uses:

Balkenbrij is an old-fashioned Dutch delicacy made with scraps of pork from the head of the animal, cooked in a broth flavored with herbs known as rommelkruid (a mixture of licorice root, aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and sandalwood) thickened with buckwheat flour. Some recipes also include raisins or currants.

In his book De Dikke Van Dam (Amsterdam, Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2006) author Johannes Van Dam writes that two people were always needed to prepare traditional balkenbrij; one to stir the porridge and one to add the flour and hold the pot. Slow, steady cooking was required to cook the flour, and the mass had to ''pop'' three times before it was ready, by which time the stirrer's arm would be nearly lame from exertion. Van Dam recommends cooking it in the microwave to prevent this problem. Once cooked, the balkenbrij is transferred to a clean tin and left to cool, after which it may be sliced, covered in flour and baked in butter in a skillet until golden brown and crispy.

Origins and Etymology:

This frugal dish was typically made after the slaughter, using meat that would otherwise go to waste. In fact, balkenbrij was often a by-product from making hoofdkaas (the Dutch version of head cheese or brawn). The name comes from the words balk, which was once a synonym for "intestines" and brij, meaning ''mush or ''porridge''.

Also Known As:

Karboet, tuet or pannas. It is similar to American scrapple and closely related to German panhas (or pannas) and möppkenbrot.

Make Your Own Balkenbrij:

Now that frugal nose-to-tail eating has become a Thing again, there has never been a better time to dust off this almost-forgotten Dutch dish. Make it from scratch with this balkenbrij recipe from The Dutch Kitchen cookbook.