A Seven-Part History of Sausages – Part Three: Rookworst

We’ve seen the sausages of Spain and Germany, so now it’s time to check out the little country’s big sausage: the Netherland’s beloved rookworst.


Simply stunning

What rookworst is

Despite its immense popularity with the natives and its intense flavour, rookworst has not found as much favour in other countries as other national sausages. As a result, it hasn’t been modified for other cultures’ tastes (such as the frankfurter morphing in to the hot dog) and has remained largely the same since it first came into being.

All rookworst is traditional rookworst. Pretty much.

All rookworst is traditional rookworst. Pretty much.

Like most sausages, rookworst is a combination of ground meat – in this case, pork – with spices, stuffed into a casing of some sort. Unlike most sausages, it is shaped like a horseshoe, and it is known for its exceptional juiciness, a result of the remarkable amount of fat in the sausage.

Pure fat has fewer calories than rookworst.

Pure fat has fewer calories than rookworst.

Two types of rookworst are sold today – vaccuum-packed, which are cooked before being shipped fromt he factory, and raw. Also called old-fashioned or butchers’ rookworst, raw rookworst is more similar to the historical rookworst, so it needs to be thoroughly cooked. It sometimes comes in an intestinal casing, rather than the modern bovine collagen casings.

Rookworst pile

I'm not sure where this bin is located, but I suspect it's heaven.

Origins of rookworst

‘Rookworst’ combines the Dutch words for smoke (‘rook’) and sausage (‘worst’), indicating its original method of preparation. Originally, the ground pork was stuffed into the leftover intestines of the slaughtered pig, along with the traditional spices, and was smoked and salted for longevity. These days, however, smoke flavourings are added to the ground pork and spices to replicate the flavour.

Smoky sausage

The haute cuisine interpretation

Gelderland, a county in the Low Countries, is famous for its rookworst. This area was great for farming and raising pigs, and the farmers regularly fed their pigs rye, potatoes and buttermilk, which gave the pork a distinct flavour.

These are actual Gelderland pigs, apparently.

These are actual Gelderland pigs, apparently.

Pigs were slaughtered at the farmers’ homes (though presumably outside) in November, the traditional time of slaughter, and then the sausage was made, salted and smoked. The farmers would eat the sausage after a hard day’s work by boiling it with kale and potatoes, which were also in season in November, in a dish called stamppot.

Stamppot. Sweet, sweet stamppot.

Stamppot. Sweet, sweet stamppot.

Stamppot is made by boiling potatoes, onion and kale, then mashing them all together with various spices (and sometimes bacon). Once the vegetables are on a plate, rookworst is placed either atop or to the side to make the completed dish.

How they eat rookworst today

If a more vegetable-heavy version of sausage and mash isn’t appealing, you can always try a traditional split-pea soup with bacon and rookworst called snert.

It's like a visual onomatopoeia.

It's like a visual onomatopoeia.

Try it on a bed of curly kale, which the Dutch call boerenkool.

Boerenkool stamppot

Like the best meals, it's nutritious and fattening at the same time!

Or you can have your rookworst like any good sausage:

In a bun.

In a bun, with a large building in the background.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out the posts on chorizo and bratwurst!

Image credits:

Rookworst – Jasha J

Traditional rookworst – FotoosVanRobin

Calories graph images – FotoosVanRobin, Wikimedia Commons, avlxyz, Rainer Zenz

Rookworst pile – marie-ll

Smoky sausage – FotoosVanRobin

Gelderland pigs – g.h. vandoorn

Stamppot – Incase Designs

Snert – woordenaar

Boerenkool – Wikimedia Commons

Rookworst in bun – klavr

  • posted by holly | 10 February 2010, 18:41,

    Great blog the Rookworst looks quite appetising!!

  • posted by Freddy | 10 February 2010, 18:44,

    Miam miam, j´adore le rookworst mais c´est difficile à trouver en France, quel dommage! Bonne continuation avec le Blog, c´est chouette!

  • posted by Francoise | 10 February 2010, 18:46,

    Je creve la dale!!

  • posted by Valerie | 10 February 2010, 18:49,

    Votre blog est genial, toujours fascinant!


  • posted by melaine | 16 February 2010, 11:23,

    cool blog maynnn

  • posted by chris | 17 February 2010, 9:31,

    Miammmm, je sais pas si c’est bon mais ces photos me donnent faim !

  • posted by Ian | 23 February 2010, 12:27,

    Yum yum sausages, you should do an article about British sausages. There is nothing better than bangers and mash or a good toad in the hole!

  • posted by Dena | 10 March 2010, 14:11,

    This is the main reason I like http://www.nh-hotels.com. Love the posts.

  • posted by paul | 04 December 2010, 3:42,

    Wheree can I get a smoked rookworst. I miss this so much. Just to eat half of it and enjoy. Used to buy at the Hema stores in the 70ties and just eat them like that Helppppppppppppppp


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