Mar 26, 2009

Crazy Meatballs


Meatballs are one of the most often eaten dishes in the Netherlands. We even have a special day for it: Wednesday is ground beef day! Rightfully so, because nothing is as versatile as ground beef. An honest, basic meatball—or “gehaktbal“, as we call it here—is plain delicious. Do me a favor; video yourself trying to pronounce ‘gehaktbal‘ and post it here, okay? :)

You have meatballs and meatballs. The standard Dutch version would include some salt and pepper, a little nutmeg, an egg and breadcrumbs. And if people are feeling particularly adventurous, they just might throw in some minced onion as well. That’s about it. Not all too exotic, is it? Not trying to put our traditional meatball down in anyway—they are really tasty in all their simplicity! Especially when served with lots of gravy.

I’ve created a slightly different meatball, though. In fact; it’s so different it hardly qualifies as a Dutch meatball anymore. I’ve put my people to shame… but in a good way, if I say so myself!



1 pound ground beef
2 small shallots
1/3 bell pepper
1 garlic clove
1 chili pepper
1 tsp dried oregano (x2)
1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (x2)
1/2 tsp curry powder
flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp salt
1 egg
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp oil



Start out with 1 pound extra-lean ground beef.


I said I’d do something about my onion addiction. Okay, so I lied. As a matter of fact; I have no intention of doing anything about it! Finely mince 2 shallots (or 1 small onion). Keep the minced shallot seperated.


I’ve also washed and finely minced 1/3 bell pepper. Color is irrelevant.


Grate or finely mince a large garlic clove.


I’ve de-seeded and finely minced a small chili pepper.


Where would I be without my spices? Is this pretty or what! Here, you see 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder and 1/2 tsp curry powder all piled up.


Add all the ingredients (1 minced shallot) to the ground beef.

tip: if you want to take these meatballs to a level higher, crumble in some feta as well!


Add 1 tsp salt and a heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon as well.


The best way for me to store my flat-leaf parsley is to wash it, dry it, put it in a Ziploc bag and store it in the vegetable drawer of my fridge.


Grab a good handful and finely chop it. Add it to the ground beef as well.


Break 1 egg over the meat mixture.


Spoon in 4 tbsp breadcrumbs. They sell seasoned breadcrumbs here, I usually go 50/50.


Knead everything together and form the meat into 4 evenly-sized meatballs.


Heat 1 tbsp oil (or butter) and quickly brown the meatballs on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the pan, pour in 1 more tbsp oil and cook the other minced shallot, over low heat, for about 3 minutes.


Transfer the meatballs to an oven dish. Don’t be like me; don’t use an oven dish that’s too small. Your oven will not be happy. Mine was way too small. I knew it would be so I’ve placed some aluminum foil on the bottom on the oven to catch the juices that would overflow! Just make sure the oven dish is not too big either.


After you’ve cooked the shallots for about 3 minutes, it’s time to make the sauce. Add another heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, the remaining 1 tsp oregano and plunge in a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt to taste (I’ve added about 1/2 a tsp). You can also add a little pepper if you like.


Pour in 1/3 cup of water and bing the sauce to a boil.


Pour the sauce over the meatballs—make sure to also leave some sauce on top of the meatballs as well. I wasn’t kidding; my oven dish was really too small. It was either that or an oven dish so big they would have needed a navigation system to find each other.

Put the meatballs in a preheated oven and bake at 400F (200C) for 30 minutes.


These are crazy good and can be served with just about anything you can think of… and then some!

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    1. 1

      I tried your kefta recipe and loved it, I will bookmark this also.

      kat on Mar 26, 2009 @ 9:33 am Reply
    2. 2

      Hi Kay,

      I can’t wait for the video’s of people trying to pronounce Gehaktbal.

      Karin on Mar 26, 2009 @ 9:49 am Reply
    3. 3

      ooohhnomnomnom…*drool* *bookmark* *smile*

      Jule on Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:08 am Reply
    4. 4

      Woohoo they look awesome!! I love meatballs :D

      LizzieBee on Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:19 am Reply
    5. 5

      These meatballs look heerlijk! I will definitely try them soon.

      I found your blog through PW recently, I think it’s fantastic.

      Can’t wait to see those videos!

      Saskia x

      Saski on Mar 26, 2009 @ 12:19 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum ,……What more can I say?

      Sophie on Mar 26, 2009 @ 1:13 pm Reply
    7. 7

      How do you divide up the shallots between the meatballs and the sauce? The recipe didn’t specify. Also, I can say gehaktbal just fine but that’s because my parents are from Holland :-)

      Mika on Mar 26, 2009 @ 3:08 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Mika, one shallot for the meat and one for the sauce!

      We want proof!!:)

      Kay on Mar 26, 2009 @ 3:10 pm Reply
    9. 9

      Thank you for your website Kay!
      I wish I would have found it when I was living in the Netherlands for 7 years (Amsterdam and Delft). I cooked a lot of Conimex in my last year there (it took me a while to like Indonesian food but now it’s one of my favorite things).

      There are some foods I really miss from Holland:
      AH Kip Kerrie Pikant Salade
      All Indonesian food
      Surinamese Food

      I am definitely going to try the Roti recipe soon. Would it be possible to post some recipes for Indonesian food some time? I have also tried to figure out how to recreate the Kip Kerrie Pikant Salad.

      En nog eens – heel erg bedankt. Ik mis Nederland en voel mij wel eens half nederlands en deze recepten hulpen wel.

      Aline on Mar 26, 2009 @ 3:13 pm Reply
    10. 10

      Aline, the problem is: I want everyone -regardless of where they live- to be able to recreate the recipes I post using local ingredients. For a lot of Indonesian recipes, you need special ingredients. Special spices etc. They’re readily available to me, but probably not to everyone else. That’s why I don’t post too many of them.

      Kay on Mar 26, 2009 @ 3:52 pm Reply
    11. 11

      I love your site! These look awesome!

      Carrie on Mar 26, 2009 @ 4:13 pm Reply
    12. 12

      The Dutch have a designated day for meatballs?
      When I was a kid, there was a commercial on tv that used to say
      “Wed. is PRINCE spaghetti day!”, showing an Italian mother yelling out her window for her son Anthony to come in for dinner!!
      Nice meatballs! I will try your recipe!

      Stacey Snacks on Mar 26, 2009 @ 4:52 pm Reply
    13. 13

      Stacey, Wednesday has -as long as I can remember- been called ground beef day (gehakt dag, as we call it) here. Not sure why. Probably related to the ground beef always being on sale that day.

      Kay on Mar 26, 2009 @ 4:56 pm Reply
    14. 14

      Kay, did you realise you put bell peppers in almost all of your recipes! You must be buying them by the truckload!

      elle on Mar 26, 2009 @ 7:13 pm Reply
    15. 15

      Those look good! Hmmmm seems to be a strange coincidence – but Pioneer Woman had her meatball recipe up too! I guess I am just going to HAVE to make meatballs! Both recipes look so good though; I will have to try both! Meatball cook off maybe….

      Jackie on Mar 26, 2009 @ 7:55 pm Reply
    16. 16

      DAMN do these look good – I love that these are non traditional and unique!! Everything you make has such a wonderful touch to it…

      Cathy on Mar 26, 2009 @ 8:25 pm Reply
    17. 17

      Those look so good! You ever add pork or Italian sausage? I do that and then roll the meatballs in breadcrumbs and then brown them up. I also stick a small chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese in the middle of the meatball. Then after frying the meatcalls, I just stick them in the big stainless skillet I made the sauce in and give them a good coating of sauce and pop it in the oven.
      Ever hear of a Javelina?
      We hunt those and Elk here in AZ, so I took 2 lbs of Elk burger and 1 lb of Javelina sausage and made meatballs out of that. Tasted Great! not much difference from beef & pork…

      Roachmon on Mar 26, 2009 @ 8:48 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Jackie, had to grin when I noticed Ree posted a meatballs recipe only hours after I slapped this one up :)

      Kay on Mar 26, 2009 @ 8:55 pm Reply
    19. 19

      This looks sooo good. I love meatballs. I make a similar recipe using stale bread zapped in the food processor.

      Treehouse Chef on Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:28 pm Reply
    20. 20

      man………great shots. great great shots.

      Kathleen on Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:29 pm Reply
    21. 21

      I thought I was seeing double there for a minute—You and PW both have meatballs on the same day…..hmmmmmm
      Both recipes look delish!!!

      Sunnie on Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:50 pm Reply
    22. 22

      Bookmarked again!

      Mrs Ergül on Mar 27, 2009 @ 4:15 am Reply
    23. 23

      The problem with you and Pioneer Woman is that I want to try all your recipes and never cook the same ones twice! Well, hardly!

      Lindie on Mar 27, 2009 @ 5:10 am Reply
    24. 24

      Wow! You and P-Dub are on a meatball thing. Um, I’m really intrigued by your version– so many wonderful spices, and shallots and peppers. My German and Mexican D.N.A. are liking this version! Your photos just reel me right in– hook, line and sinker. Looks like a “must try”.

      Debby on Mar 27, 2009 @ 8:11 am Reply
    25. 25

      Oh man, it’s like hoooked up kefta!! Looks sooo good, I’m definitely making it next week. Yum!

      Heather on Mar 28, 2009 @ 1:21 am Reply

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