Dec 3, 2009

Bitterballen


 
When you order bitterballen in my country—usually during a night out in one of our cozy ‘brown’ bars—you’ll be served a plateful of deliciously golden brown, crunchy deep-fried meatballs. Ragout and meat, that is.

But in reality these crispy little numbers can be filled with a variety of things. Anywhere from veal, chicken or beef ragout, to mashed potatoes, cheese, chicken satay mix and vegetables. Just like our kroketten. Give them an Asian twist. An Italian twist. Fill them with spicy noodles or rice with veggies and meat. Heck, even risotto works! You’re only limited by your own imagination.

I’m making vegetable bitterballen this time. Not only because they taste so good they’ll knock you right off your socks, but they also make for slightly healthier junk-food, which is a big plus to me. Another major advantage is they double duty as a children’s side dish and snack. But whatever they’re filled with, you will find bitterballen on almost every Dutch New years snack table.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 a celeriac root
1/2 a red bell pepper
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1 medium leek
1/3 cup corn
10 green beans
1/3 cup green peas
2/3 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp flour
2 oz butter
flat-leaf parsley
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
breadcrumbs
pepper
salt
oil (for deep-frying)


 
Directions:

Okay. Let’s make bitterballen.

I love celery root. It has an absolutely wicked flavor and is perfect in bitterballen because it’s not as dense and rich as mashed potatoes. We’re using half the celery root, you can use the other half in a nice hearty Dutch winter stew or authentic Dutch split pea soup, or even better: add it to mashed potatoes and see what happens to the flavor! Cut the root in half and cut the skin off.

Time to break out your grater. I was really tempted to use my food processor since it comes with a grater, but I didn’t want to cheat so I found a perfect middle ground: I had someone else grate it for me! Peel a large carrot.

Finely grate the celery root.

And do the same with the carrot.

Finely mince a small handful—about 10 or so—fresh green beans. And finely mince 1/2 a red bell pepper.

Cut the leek in half beginning at the end of the white part, turn it over and repeat the process several times. Keep doing this until your leek looks like mine. Fan out the leaves and give them a wash.

That way it’s not only easier to wash but also to chop. Use only the white and yellow part of the leek.

Transfer the grated celery root and carrot to a large pot and pour in 2/3 cup vegetable broth. Simmer over low heat (with the lid on) for 10 minutes. Stir now and then.

After 10 minutes are up, stir in the chopped green beans, bell pepper and leek. Put the lid on and simmer another 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes you check the green beans for readiness. Add the corn and peas and simmer for yet another 5 minutes.

Drain the vegetables. Gently push out as much of the cooking liquid as you possibly can. Save the liquid.

You’ll end up with almost as much cooking liquid as you put in there, 2/3 cup. Mainly because the carrot and celery root will have released their juices as well.

Finely mince one large or two small onions.

Lightly beat two egg yolks.

Heat the butter and as soon as the bubbles are gone you add your onions. Sautee them for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Add the flour and cook for a minute to neutralize the rawness of the flour.

Bit by bit, pour in the cooking liquid. See? It’s supposed to stay very thick. Add the egg yolks, the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat.

Finely mince a really good handful flat-leaf parsley and add it to the vegetable mix.

Variation tip: at this point you can also add some dry steamed rice or even noodles! Whatever rocks your boat.

Transfer the vegetable mix to a baking tray and even it out so it’ll cool off faster. Give it a few hours to get firm.

Fast forward!

Break a large egg over a bowl, add 1 tbsp milk and mix it up.

I’ve poured a 4.5 oz box of breadcrumbs in a large bowl.

Scoop up some vegetable mix with a dinner spoon—not too much—form mixture into a ball, cover with breadcrumbs, cover with egg and cover with breadcrumbs again. Coating them with breadcrumbs twice will make for a nice crunchy and firm outer layer.

Important step: put them back in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer!

Break out your deep fryer. Or be like me and just pour some oil in stir-fry pan and stick a candy thermometer in there. I used sunflower oil. We’ll be deep-frying at 350F (180C). Man, I’ve Americanized. I even use a Fahrenheit thermometer nowadays.

Fry them in small batches until brown. This will take 3 to 4 minutes. I usually keep them moving a little while they’re frying. Drain them on a paper towel.

Meat bitterballen are generally dipped in mustard here, but these are fabulous when they’re dipped in sweet chili sauce!

 

And this is how we do it. Dutch junk-food made a wee bit healthier. You’re gonna love them, your kids are gonna love them and your guests are gonna love them. Mark my words!

Kay’s Recipe Card

Click here for printable size.

Bitterballen
Ingredients
    1/2 a celeriac root
    1/2 a red bell pepper
    1 large carrot
    1 large onion
    1 medium leek
    1/3 cup corn
    10 green beans
    1/3 cup green peas
    2/3 cup vegetable broth
    3 tbsp flour
    2 oz butter
    flat-leaf parsley
    2 egg yolks
    1 egg
    1 tbsp milk
    breadcrumbs
    pepper
    salt
    oil (for deep-frying)
Directions
    Cut the root in half and cut the skin off. Peel and grate a large carrot and the celery root. Finely mince a small handful—about 10 or so—fresh green beans. And finely mince 1/2 a red bell pepper. Cut the leek in half beginning at the end of the white part, turn it over and repeat the process several times. Keep doing this until your leek looks like mine. Fan out the leaves and give them a wash. Finely mince the leek.

    Transfer the grated celery root and carrot to a large pot and pour in 2/3 cup vegetable broth. Simmer over low heat (with the lid on) for 10 minutes. Stir now and then. After 10 minutes are up, stir in the chopped green beans, bell pepper and leek. Put the lid on and simmer another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, check the green beans for readiness. Add the corn and peas and simmer for yet another 5 minutes.

    Drain the vegetables. Gently push out as much of the cooking liquid as you possibly can. Save the liquid. Finely mince one large or two small onions and lightly beat two eggs. Heat the butter and as soon as the bubbles are gone, add your onions. Sautee them for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Add the flour and cook for a minute to neutralize the rawness of the flour. Bit by bit, pour in the cooking liquid. Add the egg yolks, the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat. Finely mince a really good handful flat-leaf parsley and add it to the vegetable mix. Transfer the vegetable mix to a baking tray and even it out so it’ll cool off faster. Give it a few hours to get firm.

    Break a large egg over a bowl, add 1 tbsp milk, whisk and pour a 4.5 oz box of breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Scoop up some vegetable mix with a dinner spoon—not too much—form mixture into a ball, cover with breadcrumbs, cover with egg and cover with breadcrumbs again. Coating them with breadcrumbs twice will make for a nice crunchy and firm outer layer. Put them back in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer!

    Deep-fry the bitterballen in small batches at 350F (18o0C) until brown. This will take 3 to 4 minutes. I usually keep them moving a little while they’re frying. Drain them on a paper towel.
Meal type: snack
Servings: 20
copyright © kayotickitchen.com

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    44 Comments »

    1. 1

      You lost me at the celeriac… GAG :-) Sorry…

      Sue in Canada on Dec 3, 2009 @ 9:22 am Reply
    2. 2

      @Sue in Canada:

      Well, then I saved you a lot of reading since the recipe starts with it :)

      In all honesty, you don’t taste celeriac. It’s more a combination of flavors. I think if you’d ate it, you wouldn’t even know it was in there.

      Kay on Dec 3, 2009 @ 9:25 am Reply
    3. 3

      LOL..yes when I saw it as the first ingredient I shuddered…but I do like the idea of these..will perhaps try a different combo.

      Sue in Canada on Dec 3, 2009 @ 10:16 am Reply
    4. 4

      I’m such a sucker for fried foods. The directions seemed a bit daunting at first, but the pictures definitely look helpful, I will certainly try this recipe!

      Kirstin on Dec 3, 2009 @ 10:26 am Reply
    5. 5

      @Sue in Canada:

      No idea what would make a good subtitute, though. It’s more for volume and structure than it is for flavor. Maybe cabbage? But I think that might add a too outspoken flavor. Maybe more carrot? But the flavor might be too sweet and bland then.

      Kay on Dec 3, 2009 @ 10:26 am Reply
    6. 6

      squash maybe? or parsnip..but that might be too sweet to.
      maybe a little less of it and a little more carrot..LOL

      Sue on Dec 3, 2009 @ 10:29 am Reply
    7. 7

      @Sue:

      No idea. I love celery root, so you’re on your own *grin*

      Kay on Dec 3, 2009 @ 10:30 am Reply
    8. 8

      Veggie Bitterballen! Brilliant!

      Martijn Reintjes on Dec 3, 2009 @ 12:17 pm Reply
    9. 9

      Hoi!

      Congratulations!
      It’s just a perfect blog.
      I just find it right now. I must explore it more.

      Great foods, great photos!
      I like take photos and make some food, but I haven’t that talent of yours! :)

      (sorry about my english)

      Keep doing that excelent work!

      Doei!

      Pedro on Dec 3, 2009 @ 12:30 pm Reply
    10. 10

      Zoooheej! Dat ziet er effe “smullen” uit :)

      Excellent posting, great ingredients, superb photographs!
      Can i join you @ newyears eve? :D

      Sjaak on Dec 3, 2009 @ 1:03 pm Reply
    11. 11

      I can’t ever remember seeing celery root in a grocer in Ohio……guess I will have to pass on this one..

      Jacqueline Strawder on Dec 3, 2009 @ 1:23 pm Reply
    12. 12

      @Sue:

      We don’t have squash here so I have no idea what it tastes like, but from the sound of it that might actually work structure wise!

      Kay on Dec 3, 2009 @ 1:28 pm Reply
    13. 13

      I’ve never heard of bitterballen before, but it looks like something we’d really like. The meat version sounds like it would be quite good as well. If this is the way the Dutch do junk food, then I think it’s time for a trip there :-)

      Lana on Dec 3, 2009 @ 3:35 pm Reply
    14. 14

      Never heard of this before, sounds divine! I actually had celery root for the first time very recently when I put together a root au gratin dish, it was unusual and I liked it a lot!

      Liz Brooks on Dec 3, 2009 @ 3:51 pm Reply
    15. 15

      we usually make something similar with boiled potatoes, onions, fish/beef, chopped green chillies and a little bit of lime juice and call them Cutlets!

      Thank You for the nice recipe and Photography!

      PeachRainbow on Dec 3, 2009 @ 4:02 pm Reply
    16. 16

      Of course at first I just looked at the pictures and the balls reminded me of something my mom used to make called Sauerkraut Balls, minced ham, sauerkraut among other things. So there is a nostalgia factor here.

      I might want to try these. I suspect that I will be able to find celeriac at Whole Paycheck (also known as Whole Foods), so next time I am in Orange County, CA to visit my parents, I will see what I can find.

      Dutch junk food looks tasty!

      Bridget on Dec 3, 2009 @ 5:54 pm Reply
    17. 17

      Oh, I love bitterballen! :D It’s one of my favourite Dutch snacks :) Along with a nice block of Kaas, worst, and mustard :)

      Jennifer on Dec 3, 2009 @ 7:57 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Thanks for the recipe and pics. I have never seen these on a menu in the states. They sound so tasty, and I like that they can be made from just about any combination of foods.

      Brad on Dec 3, 2009 @ 9:04 pm Reply
    19. 19

      Whow, veggie bitterballen. Maybe now I can finally eat the things without feeling horribly guilty!

      Jaimé on Dec 3, 2009 @ 9:59 pm Reply
    20. 20

      These sound delicious. Most of the parties/potlucks that I attend are a hour’s drive away. Do these keep well? Can they be made a day ahead and re-heated before serving?

      Linda in Holland Michigan on Dec 4, 2009 @ 2:16 am Reply
    21. 21

      Hi again! I just saw your bitterballen recipe and it is almost as my mom made it (30 years ago!). I printed the recipe and will make them at the birthday party of my American stepson next week! As you said: They will knock the teens right off their socks!

      bye, ellen
      http://www.elleninamerika.com

      ellen on Dec 4, 2009 @ 8:04 am Reply
    22. 22

      @Linda in Holland Michigan:

      Bitterballen aren’t the kind of snack that can be reheated, no. You have to eat them after deep-frying!

      Kay on Dec 4, 2009 @ 9:19 am Reply
    23. 23

      Wow, you made bitterballen yourself. I always thought they could only be made in factories.
      I don’t know if I will ever make them myself because I actually like them fat, unhealthy, and with a lot of strange meat in them, but I am really impressed by your recipe!

      Mae on Dec 4, 2009 @ 11:48 am Reply
    24. 24

      It’s true bitterballen are so good! With mustard! A lot! I love to see you make the meat version with ragout ones…i love bitterballen so much! xxx Bar

      Love2bake on Dec 4, 2009 @ 2:56 pm Reply
    25. 25

      healthier junk-food…why? :(
      Junk food should be greasy and unhealthy, so once in a while (Rarely)you can indulge, that’s the whole point. :(
      Still looks great though, hoping for a meat ragout version soon :P

      We hebben wel degelijk squash in NL, flespompoen & pompoen (Ook wel kalebas genoemd)
      ;)

      Chantal on Dec 4, 2009 @ 6:05 pm Reply

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