Citizens, as you know, your Generalissimo is an international man of mystery, traveling throughout the world to attend the conclaves of the secret and the powerful.
Yesterday, I returned from a memorable stay in Amsterdam, at the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel where I was privileged to experience one of the finest stays of my life, and I have stayed in the world’s best lodging establishments.
Quite literally, the staff defines professionalism and excellence and the rooms, service and location are all beyond compare – and the food!
The food!!! 🙂
I had the opportunity to experience one of Holland’s most famous appetizers while staying there, a savory delicacy known as bitterballen in Dutch.
It’s basically deep-fried gravy – and yes, it’s as good as it sounds!
Bitterballen (plural of bitterbal) are a Dutch meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of beef or veal (minced or chopped), beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper, resulting in a thick roux.
Most recipes include nutmeg and there are also variations utilizing curry powder or that add in finely chopped vegetables such as carrot.
The ingredients are combined and cooked, then refrigerated for the mixture to firm up. Once firm, the filling is rolled into balls roughly 3 to 4 cm in diameter, then battered in a breadcrumb and egg mixture and deep-fried. They are typically served with a ramekin or small bowl of mustard for dipping.
They are also eaten in Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, the Netherlands, Belgium, and to some degree in Indonesia. The bitterbal derives its name from a generic word for certain types of herb-flavoured alcoholic beverages, called a bitter in Dutch, and are popularly served as part of a bittergarnituur, a selection of savory snacks to go with drinks, at pubs or at receptions in the Netherlands.
I was so impressed by the dish I imposed on the chef of the hotel to share his recipe with me so I can in turn share it with you, Citizens! Should you ever find yourselves fortunate enough to be in Amsterdam, the Venice of the North, you MUST stay at the Waldorf if it is within your means! This recipe is credited to Chef Tomas Bron of the hotel, and makes 50 bitterballen – feel free to halve the recipe as needed.
Try this, Citizens – you will not be disappointed in the results and will in fact almost certainly have a new favorite dish! One warning – bitterballen are molten lava-levels of hot when they come out of the fryer, eat with extreme caution at the beginning or let them cool down.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
• 1 kg stewing beef
• 1 onion
• ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 cloves
• A few sprigs of thyme
• For the roux:
• 100 g butter
• 120 g flour
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 500 ml milk
• 500 ml beef stock (made from cooking the meat)
• 5 sheets gelatine
• Salt, pepper and a little nutmeg, to taste
• 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• For the breading:
• Flour, egg and fresh breadcrumbs
- Place the beef in a large pan with just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer. Skim off the foam and add the onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves and thyme. Allow to simmer for a few hours until the meat is tender.
- Strain the beef stock and set aside to use later. Allow the meat to cool. Cut the beef into small cubes.
- Make a roux with the butter, flour and chopped shallots.
- Use the roux to make a salpicon by adding the milk and the beef stock. Let it simmer for half an hour, stirring thoroughly.
- Dissolve the gelatine in cold water and add to the simmering salpicon, stirring regularly. Add the rest of the ingredients and the beef. Cover with plastic wrap and let the salpicon cool in the refrigerator.
- Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into neat, even-sized balls.
- Bread them twice.
- Deep-fry at 180 degrees celsius (TFD note – serve with top-quality mustard!)
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