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Bitterballen at Home?

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April 25, 2017 / Dutch / By
Katie Schenk

 

I’ve seen comments on recipe sharing sites before that say things like, “I would never go though the trouble of making that myself.”

I get it; I really do.

But, I see it as more of a challenge than a warning. I can’t help it, I like making finicky food. What fun is throwing together a bunch of veggies in a pot with some meat and stock and making a stew? That’s not to say I don’t enjoy stews; it’s just not the sort of cooking I enjoy.

Bitterballen, on the other hand, that is crazy good fun cooking.

I will say, however, it’s not easy work.

Bitterballen are fried Dutch meatballs made with roasted beef instead of raw mince. And, they’re held together with a milk and flour mixture rather than mashed potatoes or eggs. It’s a multi-step recipe… and I understand people – who just want to get food on the table – aren’t going to take the time to make Bitterballen.

That’s not me.

Indeed, after my first attempt, in which I roasted a steak turned out so well, I decided to make an entire extra roast on Easter just so I could make Bitterballen. (Yes, they’re totally, totally worth it.)

Then, I spent the entire following day making these delicious fried meatballs. Who wouldn’t want them hanging about in the fridge and freezer? Why wouldn’t you pack them into school lunchboxes for kids and still eat them for dinner? They’re simply marvellous.

At the end of Easter Monday, my kitchen was destroyed, but my belly was full and I was happy.

 

Here’s how to do it.

Katie’s Bitterballen

  • 1½ cup Roast beef, rare, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon Butter
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons Chives, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 2 extra large Eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cup Breadcrumbs
  • Oil, for deep frying

Once your beef is roasted and chopped (I do it in the food processor), set it aside.

Make the milk and flour binding by melting the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously, until sauce is thick. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chives, beef and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Scoop this mixture into a baking sheet, and cool it.

I set it in the fridge because it’s really easiest to work with when it’s semi-solid. Yes, this takes time.

Then, lay out three large, rimmed plates or shallow mixing bowls. You’ll place flour in one, beaten eggs in the next, and the breadcrumbs in the final bowl. And, you may need more or less of these ingredients; this is really a rough guide. Incidentally, I believe the original recipe calls for dried breadcrumbs, but I just whizz up enough from whatever fresh or stale bread we have on hand.

To form the meatballs, scoop tablespoons of the semi-solid beef and milk mixture into the flour. Roll into balls with a coating of flour on the outside of the meatball. Drop these into the egg, spoon to coat. Then, drain the excess and drop into the breadcrumbs. Place on a tray. When complete – or the tray is full, place it in the fridge and allow it to set for at least another 30 minutes.

To fry the meatballs, heat oil in a wok (really, this works best). You want enough to essentially deep fry the Bitterballen with a few turns. If you shallow fry them in a pan, you’re not going to get rounded meatballs. (After making meatballs from 12 cups – yes 12 cups – of chopped beef in a single day, I’m certain I have this right.)

The original recipe I used says this makes 18 servings, but I have no idea what that means, only that it’s enough to whet your appetite. Enjoy hot with a bit of mustard and you’re all set. (Also, expect family to hang around the stove for the final part of the process, waiting for the first few Bitterballen to shovel into their mouths.)


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