“Woensdag Gehaktdag!” In The Netherlands, "Wednesday is ground meat day". It used to be the marketing slogan for the butchering trade during the fifties and sixties, and even now, on many a Wednesday you can find children standing on a little stool at the kitchen counter, helping make dinner by learning how to roll meatballs in their little chubby hands.
Dutch meatballs are a couple of sizes up from the average American spaghetti meatballs. Slowly simmered in their own pan gravy, they are versatile, easy to make and affordable, and one of those typical dishes that are somehow associated with "gezelligheid", grandmas and wintery dishes.
Gehaktballen can be served in many ways: as your main protein with one of the various stamppots, by itself on a breadroll with a good lick of mustard or ketchup, or sliced and deep-fried with onion and served with peanut sauce as the famous bereklauw... The gehaktbal will endure practically any kind of culinary treatment: it's all good.
Preferably made with half-om-half gehakt, fifty percent beef and fifty percent pork, these meatballs will also stand to be made with all beef.
- 500 grams (18 oz) ground meat, half-and-half
- 2 shallots or one small onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, ground
- 2 tablespoons of prepared mustard
- 2 slices of white bread
- 100ml (3.4 fl oz) milk
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 50 grams (1.8 oz) butter
- 100ml (3.4 fl oz) beef bouillon
Mince the shallots or small onion. Add the meat to a bowl, mix in the shallots, the egg, the nutmeg, the salt, pepper and mustard, and knead a couple of times until the spices have mixed well with the meat. Cut the crust off the bread, soak it in the milk and add it to the meat. Dispose of the rest of the milk.
When the mixture has come together, divide it in four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, roll the meatballs through the flour and set aside.
Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet and sear the meatballs on all sides. Lower the heat, place the cover on the pan for a good twenty minutes, then turn the meatballs over and simmer for another ten. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, cover and simmer for another twenty minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan, add beef stock to the pan and stir to loosen up all the meaty bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste and see if you need to adjust salt/pepper or bind the pan gravy with a little bit of cornstarch or flour.