Hachee (Dutch Beef & Onion Stew)

Hachee is a traditional beef and onion stew found in virtually every Dutch home.  It’s a delicious comfort dish to enjoy during the cold winter months.  The long, slow cooking time produce super tender meat and a rich sauce with wonderful depth of flavor. This authentic hachee recipe is one the whole family will love!

Serve this dish with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage for a complete and traditional Dutch meal!

hachee recipe traditional authentic dutch beef stew onion holland netherlands cloves vinegar juniper berries bay leaves

What is Hachee?

The word  has its origins in the French hacher, meaning “to chop” and Hachee is sometimes referred to as a “hash.”  Hachee has been around since the middle ages and like many of the traditional dishes of Europe that we know and love today, it was originally a peasant dish, created as a means of using up leftover meat and vegetables.  The vinegar was used to tenderize tough pieces of meat, much like the French used wine in Coq Au Vin).  Less expensive vegetables likes onions were used in generous amounts.  A long cooking process further ensured the meat would be tender.  Hachee remains a popular and much-loved dish in the Netherlands.  So much so that you can find it ready-made in grocery stores.  But nothing beats homemade, and your patience in the long, slow cooking process will yield results that will make your taste buds swoon.

Traditional Seasonings in Hachee

The flavor profile of Hachee is significantly different from the traditional beef stews we know here in the U.S.. Hachee uses equal parts of beef and onion and the onions are caramelized.  The featured flavors in this stew are cloves, juniper berries, black peppercorns, bay leaves and vinegar – all of which come together to provide a wonderful depth of flavor that is both rich and comforting.  The flavor of Hachee shares similarities with German Sauerbraten.

cloves juniper berries black peppercorns bay leaves spices for hachee recipe

I first made this recipe over 10 years ago when my husband’s family came for a visit.  My father-in-law had lived in the Netherlands for a while as a young adult and fell in love with the country, its people, and its food.  Many of the dishes he enjoyed there over 40 years ago he hadn’t had since, and he has often mentioned longing to enjoy them again.  So I wanted to surprise him with a traditional Dutch meal.  I narrowed it down to three options:  Boerenkool Stampot, Hutspot, and Hachee.  I decided on Hachee.  It’s a little more interesting, plus you can’t find the smoked Dutch sausages (rookworst) here that are traditionally eaten with the other two dishes.  And it also gave me the excuse to finally make the braised red cabbage with it that many of my readers had been requesting – a side dish that is equally popular in Germany where it is known as Rotkohl.

As my father-in-law sat down to dinner he instantly recognized the dish.  “This is the dish I had almost every night during my first two months in the Netherlands!”  It was the first time he had had it in over 40 years and he savored every bit.  We all did.

hachee recipe traditional authentic dutch beef stew onion holland netherlands cloves vinegar juniper berries bay leaves

Hachee Recipe

Let’s get started!

Cube the beef and pat it dry with a paper towel – this will ensure that it browns well.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Brown the beef in a Dutch oven.  Brown the cubes on all sides.  Brown in batches so as not to overcrowd the beef – that will prevent it from browning properly.  Remove the beef and set aside, leaving the burnt bits on the bottom of the pan – those will provide a lot of flavor to the stew.

browning beef in pot

Add some more butter and caramelize the onions until golden brown.  Add the flour and stir to combine.

Add the beef to the onions.

cooking onions and adding flour and beef

Add the beef broth and the seasonings.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.  Uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes to help thicken the sauce.  If it needs further thickening, make a slurry with equal parts of flour and water and stir it into the stew, stirring constantly to prevent lumping.  Return to a simmer until the stew is thickened.

Add salt, pepper and more red wine vinegar to taste.

adding broth and cooking traditional hachee recipe dutch

Hachee is traditionally served with aardappelen (potatoes) and rode kool met appeltjes, which is braised red cabbage with apples, also known as Rotkohl in German.  A serving of applesauce is also common.

Eet smakelijk!

hachee recipe traditional authentic dutch beef stew onion holland netherlands cloves vinegar juniper berries bay leaves

For more delicious beef stews from around the world be sure to try our:

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet January 6, 2014

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