Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)

My mother-in-law was born in Holland. If you ever met her you wouldn't believe it because she's about as Aussie as they come, but she really treasures her Dutch heritage and has passed as much of it as she can to her children. Dutch food has always been a staple in their household and this was really exciting for me because it was something that was quite foreign to me.

Although really Italy and The Netherlands aren't THAT far away, their cuisine couldn't be any more different. I never really encountered much deep-frying in my Nonna's kitchen (except for the times she made my favourite treat- Crostoli which is basically deep fried pasta dough smothered in icing sugar), not only that but the flavours were so different, you can tell that both cuisines are a result of availability and environmental factors (all cuisines are really!)

It's obvious that the Dutch are a resourceful lot, living in colder climates, below sea level where they have to build dykes and dams to stop from drowning. This has made them a very strong bunch that fight for what they believe in and have always seemed to be ahead of the times both politically and economically. Don't get me wrong though, this doesn't stop them from being one of the most fun-loving, laid back and happy people on the planet- and YES I'm sure a lot of it in part is due to their liberal sexual and psychotropic lifestyle...

So needless to say, I'm happy I've had a bit of Dutch cuisine injected into my life. My fridge is always stocked with Leyden which is a cumin-spiced Gouda, my freezer always has a few Frikadel floating around (skinless chicken sausages), and my pantry seems to never have enough Pfeffernusse, Spekulaas and my favourite Stoopwafles (if you haven't had these you need to GET SOME).

So enough yabbering... I made bitterballen from a Dutch cookbook that was given to me for Christmas one year and they were delicious! They're super unhealthy and a bit of a labour of love but seriously worth every juicy mouthful. ENJOY!

You will need...
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs plain flour
1 cup milk
1 Tbs very finely chopped onion
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups cooked veal mince, chopped as fine as you can get it
Flour, 3 large eggs and breadcrumbs for crumbing
oil for frying

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over the stove then add the milk and stir well to prevent any lumps.
2. Add the 7 following ingredients, then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring well.
3. Spread this mixture on a plate and place it in the fridge to cool (if I'm in a time crunch I put it in the freezer for 5 minutes)
4. Once it is cool, roll into little balls** (whichever size you prefer), then beat the eggs with a splash of water. Get two trays ready, one with your flour and one with your breadcrumbs.
5. Using one hand, roll your balls in the flour, and with the other hand, dip them in the egg and then drop them into the crumbs, and use your dry flour hand to roll them around the crumbs. Keeping one hand for the dry mix and one for the wet mix will prevent you crumbing your fingers. Don't overcrowd the balls either, do a few batches with 4 or so balls at a time.
6. Once your bitterballen are all crumbed (I crumb them twice usually, which means once they've been breaded, I put them back in the egg mix, then roll them in breadcrumbs again-this gives them an extra crunch, but you don't need to do this if you don't wish to), heat a generous amount of oil in a deep frypan or wok.
7. Drop a pinch of breadcrumbs in the oil, if it sizzles it means the oil is ready to go. Carefully place a couple of bitterballen in the oil at a time. Let them come to a golden brown colour, then remove and drain on absorbent paper. Keep them in a warm oven while you continue to cook the rest.

The end of the recipe says and I quote 'They are served with mustard, and usually it is very difficult to eat them without burning your mouth, but that is as it should be.' God Love the Dutch!

Served with home-made pickled cabbage and a slice of frittata

**Wet your hands with a little cold water as you roll them to prevent the mix sticking to your hands-this technique usually works for meatballs and the like as well!


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