In my country any recipe that starts with the word “Grandma’s” is a guaranty to success. It’s a universal rule: everything tastes better the way grandma made it.
I’ve received so many emails asking me for an authentic and traditional Dutch meatballs recipe. Crazy amount of emails! What’s the fascination for Dutch meatballs? Now let me start by saying there is no such thing. There are a gazillion different recipes out there. A lot of them use similar ingredients such as nutmeg and mustard, but mainly they’re family recipes with varying ingredients. They do have one thing in common: butter. Lots and lots of butter. Our traditional gravy differs from American gravy. You’ll see.
What I can give you is the recipe I grew up with. It’s not an exact one-on-one because certain ingredients such as Ketjap—a thick and sweet Indonesian soy sauce—can’t be purchased all over the world and it’s big part of the recipe as it lingered around my family.
But I found a work around … the recipe behind the cut comes pretty close to our family recipe! If you’re not a fan of nutmeg, you might want to opt out of this one!
1 pound ground beef
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 a tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp coarse mustard
1/2 tsp white pepper
6 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
butter (lots of it)
1 cup beef broth
Start with 1 pound good-quality ground beef. Not hamburger, mind you, that comes from a different part of the cow.
Add 1 egg, salt to taste (we like them salty, so I add 1 1/2 tsp), 1/2 a tsp ground white pepper, a pinch of cayenne and 1/2 a tbsp ground nutmeg, mine wasn’t freshly grated or I’d still be grating. This seems like a lot of nutmeg but trust me, it works.
Tip: adding a finely minced small onion is also really tasty.
Wrecked my brain over a Ketjap substitute (any ideas?) and decided to go for 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce. It was perfect.
Add 1 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp coarse mustard. The milk makes the meat somehow taste better. Almost juicier. The mustard adds a lovely tang and slight flavor but doesn’t make it mustardy.
Now I know Paneer is also the name of an Indian cheese, but overhere it stands for breadcrumbs. Add 6 tbsp breadcrumbs.
Dig your hands in there and mix it all up. Make your hands slightly wet and form 4 to 5 meatballs. Make them firm. Really press them on all sides to remove as much of the air trapped inside as you possibly can. It’s the air that makes them crack during browning.
Note: I ran out of flour, but this is the moment you sprinkle a little flour all over each meatball!
You shouldn’t be afraid of butter in order to make Dutch meatballs, that’s for sure. Heat lots of it. This was roughly 3 oz.
As soon as the butter stops bubbling, add the meat balls and brown them on all sides. When they’re brown enough for your liking, pour in 1 cup of beef broth and pop the lid on. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, crack the lid slightly allowing moisture to escape.
Here’s what it looks like after 25 minutes. Now this is Dutch gravy. Loads of butter, meat juices and broth combined and cooked down. Fattening like crazy but oh-so good. You can add a little mustard (or ketjap) for extra flavor.
Serve with curly endive mash to get the full Dutch effect and drizzle lots of gravy on top.
Honey, I’m home!!
These meatballs are delicious as is, but what I can wake my guys for in the middle of the night is a meatball sandwich. It’s why I usually make a few extra and store them in the fridge. Slather some mayo on two slices of bread, top with cold meatball slices and a little ketchup and mustard. Yum.