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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Try it on a bed of curly kale, which the Dutch call boerenkool.
Or you can have your rookworst like any good sausage:
Rookworst – Jasha J
Traditional rookworst – FotoosVanRobin
Rookworst pile – marie-ll
Smoky sausage – FotoosVanRobin
Gelderland pigs – g.h. vandoorn
Stamppot – Incase Designs
Snert – woordenaar
Boerenkool – Wikimedia Commons
Rookworst in bun – klavr