Cooking · Countries · Olympic Games Rio 2016

Belgium – Waterzooi


The desire to travel the globe and immerse myself in worldly cultures grows the more I learn about different countries and see the pictures of castles, beaches, people riding bikes in the countryside.  Belgium has me daydreaming of flower festivals, Christmas Markets, and walkable and bicycle friendly urban areas.

The dish I selected was one of three listed in The New York Times International Cookbook.  My choices include:

  • Carbonnades of Beef a la Flamande
    • I will make this someday.  It is a labor of love up front but then you place it in the oven for one to two hours.  It is perfect for dinner parties because it gives you time out of the kitchen to get things and yourself ready.  Also, this is the Belgian version of French Beef Bourguignon, but is made with beer instead of red wine.
  • Waterzooie
  • Fondue Bruxelloise
    • You make a cheese sauce, pour it into a pan to set overnight, cut out the cheese into squares, rectangle,s rounds, or diamond shapes, then fry the cheese.

Waterzooi is a Belgian stew.  The original dish is often made of fish, either freshwater or sea.  Today chicken waterzooi is more common. The most common belief for this is that rivers around Ghent became too polluted and the fish there disappeared.

While I was reading about waterzooi, I read that fries are thought to have originated in Belgium.  The reason for them being called French fries is that during World War I the soldier thought they were in France where they were served the dish.  Fries are popular enough in Belgium to have their own food stands or fast food restaurants.  They are served with a variety of sauces with the most popular being mayonnaise and ketchup.

Seafood waterzooi            Source: ayusterty from Tokyo, Japan (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons


I cut the recipe listed below in half when I made it and we had leftovers.  This can be served with rice which can be cooking while you make the waterzooi.

  • 2 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into serving pieces
    • You can buy a whole chicken and cut it at home, ask your friendly butcher to cut the chicken into pieces, or buy a whole chicken already cut into pieces.
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 6 ribs of celery
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and scraped
  • 8 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 4 leeks, trimmed, split, and rinsed well under cold running water
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 blade of dried mace or nutmeg to taste
  • 5 cups of boiling Chicken Stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 4 thin slices of fresh lemon, seeds removed
  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat the butter in a dutch oven or casserole and add the chicken.
  3. Cover and simmer, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for about ten minutes.
    1. The chicken should more or less stew in the butter without browning.
  4. Add the ribs of celery, carrots, parsley, leeks, peppercorns, and mace.
  5. Add the boiling stock and cover.
  6. Simmer over low heat for about thirty minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  7. Remove the chicken to a hot dish and cover to keep warm.
  8. Strain the broth into another dutch oven or casserole.
    1. Alternatively, you can pour the broth into a mixing bowl with a lip and then pour it into the strainer back into the dutch oven you were using. (Transfer the liquid with the receiving bowl in the sink so if any broth spills it spills into the sink and not on the counter and floor.) I only have one dutch oven so this is what I did.  Also, the dutch oven is heavy and it is easier to pour from this into a wide mouthed bowl then into a strainer.
  9. Add the lemon juice and heat.
  10. Beat the egg yolks lightly and add the cream.
  11. Gradually add this to the hot broth, stirring vigorously.
  12. Ad the chicken.
  13. Let cook, without boiling, until the sauce thickens slightly,
  14. Do no overcook or the sauce may curdle.
  15. Serve in hot soup bowls garnished with lemon slices.
    1. The hot soup bowl is a type of bowl not the temperature of the bowl when you serve.  I am mentioning this because, well no reason, other than I Amelia Bedeliaed this.
  16. Serve rice separately.

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