Bitterballen

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In Holland, a night out on the town, or a social event with coworkers, usually starts out at a local café, with a beer or two and something to snack on. This something is called a "bittergarnituur". The word translates as the slightly confusing "garnish for bitters", where bitters in this case refers to alcoholic beverages

The bittergarnituur will usually contain bite-size cubes of Gouda cheese, miniature eggrolls and meatballs, perhaps some slices of a local meat sausage and ofcourse, bitterballen, Holland’s favorite snack.

Bitterballen are deep-fried and crispy breaded rounds with a tender, savory filling. Traditionally made with beef, they can also be prepared with chicken, veal or even with mushrooms, for those that prefer a vegetarian option.

Bitterballen

  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
  • 150 grams (5.3 oz) flour
  • 700 ml (23.7 fl oz) beef bouillon
  • 30 grams (1 oz) fresh onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 400 grams (14 oz) cooked meat, shredded
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg

For the breading

  • 50 grams (1.8 oz) flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50 grams (1.8 oz) bread crumbs

Melt the butter in a skillet or pan. When melted, add the flour little by little and stir into a thick paste. Slowly stir in the stock, making sure the roux absorbs the liquid. Simmer for a couple of minutes on a low heat while you stir in the onion, parsley and the shredded meat. The mixture should thicken and turn into a heavy, thick sauce.

Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover and refrigerate for several hours, or until the sauce has solidified.

Take a heaping tablespoon of the cold, thick sauce and quickly roll it into a small ball. Roll lightly through the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Make sure that the egg covers the whole surface of the bitterbal. When done, refrigerate the snacks while the oil in your fryer heats up to 190C (375F). Fry four bitterballen at a time, until golden.

Serve on a plate with a nice grainy or spicy mustard.

Makes approximately 20 bitterballen.