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
Dec 8, 2008

Dutch Split Pea Soup

Funny story. Kayotic Kitchen was recently published in a Dutch magazine. The header stated “They even make my split pea soup in Egypt“. I thought I’d die laughing—there is was no split pea soup recipe in my food blog! It was so amusing to read how the interview I gave them had been creatively altered. So I guess it’s about time I slap up an “erwtensoep” recipe, wouldn’t you say? Even…