A classic dutch snack that really should not only be a national but worldwide treasure. It consists of braised beef that’s thickened with a roux, rolled into little balls, breaded and deep fried. They are fucking good.
Making these yourself actually takes a long time but the result is absolutely stellar. The most time-consuming part is braising the beef and although you could replace the braised beef with ground beef, it’s just not the same. The beef needs to be soft and when I tried this recipe with ground beef instead the results were still a little chewy. You can also make a a batch and store them ready to go in the freezer and plop them in the fryer straight from frozen.
Bitterballen - Dutch Secrets Exposed
- deep fryer
- casserole or dutch oven
For the beef braise
- 2 whole onions cut in half, skin left on
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 whole carrots peeled and quarted
- 1/2 kg chuck or brisket cleaned of excess fat
- 750 ml chicken stock
For the bitterballen mix
- 30 g butter
- 30 g flour
- 1 tsp allspice
- salt and pepper
For the breading
- 1 box panko breadcrumbs
- 2 whole eggs beaten
- 150 g flour
- mustard for dipping
- frying oil
- Set the oven to 175C/350F. Dry off the meat and get a frying pan on high heat. Sear the beef in a little vegetable oil until nicely browned on all sides. Set inside a casserole dish or something that has a lid and generously season with salt and pepper. Sear the onions and carrots until nicely browned and add to the casserole with the beef.
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add it to the braising dish/dutch oven with the rest of the ingredients for the braise. Season the liquid with a little salt, cover and set in the oven for about 2.5-3 hours. Check after two hours. If the meat pulls apart easily with a fork it's done.
- Let the meat cool in the liquid, maybe 20 minutes? Take a coffee break 😉
- Once the meat is cool enough to handle, chop it into small pieces and set aside. Discard any bits of tendon or excess fat. Strain the braising liquid from the vegetables and measure out 250ml. If you have too much braising liquid left over you can continue cooking this broth separately to intensify the flavour until it reaches 250ml. Just make sure its not too salty.
- Grab a large pan with shallow sides and a whisk. Melt the butter then add the flour and whisk it. Cook this over low heat until the roux turns golden brown. Let this cool slightly. Begin to add the cooled broth slowly into this roux, whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
- Once all the liquid is mixed in add the beef, allspice and fresh black pepper and cook gently until the mixture thickens slightly for about 5 minutes. Taste. Make sure it is seasoned nicely with salt and pepper. Let this cool completely on a tray in the fridge for approximately two hours or overnight.
- Once the mixture is completely cooled, begin to roll it into little balls slightly smaller than a pingpong ball. Get three bowls and fill one with flour, one with beaten eggs and the other with the bread crumbs. Dredge the balls in the flour, then the eggs and finally the panko breadcrumbs.
- Once breaded you can store some in the freezer for later or fry some now in a deep fryer at 170C/350F for about 5-6 minutes or until nicely golden and hot in the middle. Serve with a side of mustard and a good cold beer.