A Dutch Experiment
While visiting The Netherlands earlier this year, Sarah introduced me to Bitterballen, a dutch snack food traditionally eaten with beer. They were so good that all of us visiting Americans insisted on ordering them at every meal where it made sense. After leaving the country, I figured I wouldn’t get to eat them again until I returned. But this weekend I decided nuts to that and went about researching how to make them myself.
After checking out several different recipes on the internet, I settled on the following:
- 4 tbl. butter or margarine
- 1/2 lb ground beef or veal
- 1/4 cup carrot, finely diced
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A grating of fresh nutmeg
- 1 tbl. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbl. parsley, finely chopped
- 5 tbl. flour
- 1 cup beef broth or milk
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
- Oil for deep frying
Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook the meat, carrots, and onions until the meat is browned and the carrots are tender. Drain the meat in a colander, then place in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Set the meat mixture aside. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook this for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the beef broth or milk. Continue heating, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and becomes quite thick. Combine the sauce with the meat mixture, stirring to combine them thoroughly, and chill this mixture for at least two hours in the refrigerator, until it has become solid. When the mixture has solidified, roll it into balls about 1 inches in diameter, using your hands. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs, then in the egg and water mixture, then in the bread crumbs again. Fry a few at a time in a deep fryer with at least 2 inches of oil at 375 degrees until golden (about 2 to 3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
I chose my friend’s final debate watching party as the testing grounds, hoping that a wide group of people could give feedback. Sadly attendance was far less than the previous debate parties, but overall the reviews were positive.
I made the constituent elements the day before. The green bowl there is a three times the recipe above and took several hours to prepare.
Each of these balls has a double coating of breadcrumbs. In retrospect, I wish I had made them a bit smaller.
It was not easy to keep the temperature constant. Poor Mike was constantly checking the temperature and adjusting the heat.
I feel this was the best batch in terms of color. I didn’t have a proper timer to count the frying time, leading to uneven cooking.
This is the first 16, but I would end up making 13 more, for a total of 29 delicious little balls. I also have easily half of the filling left over. Looks like I’m going to have to make more this weekend.