My Kitchen Antics: Bitterballen (Dutch beef croquettes)

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We were in Amsterdam last week for Ro’s cousins graduation and other than doing all the wild stuff Amsterdam is known for, we also got around to sampling some of the Dutch food. Well, Ro and his cousin wanted to eat Indonesian food, while i made a big fuss and said I wanted to try Dutch food, which to be honest was nothing to brag about at the end of the day. I tried fried cheese, bitterballen, stroopwaffels (waffles filled with caramel syrup), poffertjes and i was almost talked into trying the raw herring, but that definitely didn’t happen. 

The bitterballen was my favourite from the lot i tried and i had to figure out how to make them at home. I scouted around for recipes and finally put together all the info i got and came up with my version. Its basically white sauce and meat mixed together, refrigerated, made into balls and deep fried. Yeah, whats not to like about that? 

I am soooo going to serve this as an appetiser at my next party which reminds me, i haven’t thrown a party in so long. Work and other commitments have got in the way, but don’t get me wrong, I’m loving every bit if it. Bitterballen is served with a mustard dip, since I’m not that big a mustard fan, i made my own version with the addition of some mayo and chilli sauce.

Makes around 30 medium size croquettes

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Stewing beef- 400 to 450gms, cut into cubes

Ginger garlic paste- 1 1/2 tsp

Meat masala- 1 tsp (optional)

Salt and pepper- to taste

Minced beef- 1 1/2 cups

Butter- 90 gms

Flour- 2/3rd cup

Beef stock- 2 1/4 cups

Nutmeg- a generous pinch

Salt and pepper- to taste

Parsley- 1 tsp

Egg- 1, large, beaten

Bread crumbs- 1/2 cup

Oil- enough to deep fry

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Cook the beef with the ginger garlic paste, meat masala and enough salt and pepper till done. I used a pressure cooker to make this process faster, but you are more than welcome to cook them with some water on the stove top, or use a slow cooker.

Once done, shred using a fork, mince in the food processor or just finely chop.

This mix can go right into the freezer.

Make a roux by melting the butter on medium heat and slowly whisking in the flour to form a smooth paste.

Pour in the beef stock bit by bit, whisking well after each addition, and the roux absorbs all the liquid.

Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir it in.

Add the beef and chopped parsley, mix thoroughly.

Take it off heat and transfer to a shallow container

Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hr for the mix to harden which would make it easier to work with. This step is highly advised. *

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When ready to fry, take the mix out of the refrigerator.

Take about 1 tbsp of the mix and roll into a ball, roughly the size of a golf ball. Arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Meanwhile, pour in the oil into a frying pan, and heat on medium heat

Drop a crumb into the oil and if its floats to the top immediately, then that means the oil is hot enough.

Quickly dip the balls in the egg, roll in the bread crumbs and drop into the oil.

Once it turns golden brown, turn it over and fry the other side.

Once golden and fried all over, transfer to a kitchen towel to drain.

Serve hot with a mustard dip.

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Notes:*I lined my baking tray with silver foil and spread out the mix so it would firm up faster and evenly. I also kept it over night in the fridge, covered.

I am not a fan of plain mustard, so i mixed a bit of mayo into the mustard for the dip.

I also froze the remaining balls, after dipping and rolling them in eggs and crumbs. Placed them in a ziploc bag for a rainy day.

Adding cheese to the beef mix is not something i didn’t think about, but it was too late to defrost the cheese from the freezer. Feel free to add some. Cheese can only take it a notch higher.
You can try the same with any meat or even seafood. Finely chopped cooked vegetables should do the trick as well.

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