Don’t waste food was a repeated reminder from my childhood. It was also the idea behind the creation of an obscure Dutch pate’ known as balkenbrij. Translated, balkenbrij is close to leftover brew. It originated centuries ago when hogs were processed in late fall. The leftover parts were put into a pot and boiled. The meat was then mashed and again brought to a boil in the pot. Buckwheat flour was then added and stirred in. When the brew was about impossible to stir, it was removed from the heat, ladled into a storage container, and cooled.
I not only ate this as a child, I helped my mother make it. After the first boil, we would process the meat through grinder with a hand crank. Turning the crank was my job (or one of my brothers). Variations of balkenbrij were likely made by peasants before recipes were written down. The recipe I have is from a family cookbook made for my maternal grandmother’s 95th birthday in 1993.
I hadn’t made this in several years. I recently read an article about all the beneficial nutrients in blood sausage. I never ate blood sausage, but it reminded me of this recipe because we ate this for breakfast as Brits do with blood sausage. We would spread the meat on a slice of bread, then pour maple syrup on it. I believe the maple syrup was a Holland, Michigan addition. Europeans were not in the maple syrup habit.
This is what mine looked like when I finished my batch this morning. It tastes like back home. But it is definitely an acquired taste. It may appeal to fans of liverwurst. One of my three children likes it. One would leave the room whenever it was made or reheated.
Balkenbrij is still made in the Netherlands. When I googled it most of the recipes were in Dutch. Ingredients like raisins and allspice which were never in any I had at home are included. I have four loaf pans of it cooling in my fridge. I’ll cut each in half and freeze it in pieces. It will be more than a years supply. If I make it again I think I’ll reduce the quantity.
Here is the method I used: Cover 3 to 4 parts pork roast to one part liver with water. Bring to boil and until meat is done. Remove the meat to cool and reserve the liquid. Cut the meat into chunks and process in blender or food processor with some of the liquid. Return everything to the pot and bring to a boil. Add flour, 1/3 to 1/2 the total weight of the meat, bring back to boil. Continue gradually adding flour until it is about impossible to stir. Remove from heat and spoon into a loaf pan. Chill.
To serve, heat butter in a skillet. Slice a piece off the loaf and fry in butter on both sides. Serve on a toasted slice of bread with maple syrup. Its a nutrient- dense winter breakfast.