For many visitors to the Netherlands, bitterballen (bitter balls) is both a snack food and a culinary highlight. They are the snack-sized version of a kroket, which, although we'd rather not admit it, originates in the French 'croquettes'. The Dutch kroket and bitterbal however do have a current form and recipe that is uniquely Dutch, and utterly delicious. A crunchy outside with a soft, warm and usually meaty filling.
|Chicken ragout bitterballen|
Apparently the name "bitter balls" comes from what they were served with, a 'bitter', a spiced Jenever or an alcoholic, strong, bitter aromatic drink. But hey, who knows.
It's not hard to sum up a good kroket or bitterbal - you make a roux, add some high quality stock (broth), meat, flour and butter to form the filling, ensure a nice breaded crust, after which you deep fry it. How hard can it be?
Well... not that hard, if you know the right tips and trics.
First of - forget about large krokets. Focus on small krokets or rather: bitterballen.
Second - use gelatine.
Third: use whatever you prefer. Veal stock and meat is a classic, and so is beef, but chicken is pretty good too. If you prefer vegetarian - use a good quality vegetable stock and some mushrooms and you will not be disappointed.
4th: if you make several kinds of bitterballen at the same time, you can use beetroot powder (red) or kurkuma (yellow) to see the difference in the finished product.
Finally - make sure that crust is strong.
|Chicken (pale) and beef (pink) ready for frying.|
I suggest we stick to bitterballen.
- 40 g purpose flour
- 50 g butter
- 225-250 g high quality, preferably home made stock
- 100 g cooked meat (pref meat left over from making stock)
- handful fresh parsley
- 10 g powdered gelatin
- 5 g salt
- 2 egg whites
- 100 bread crumbs
- 100 g panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1 tsp mustard
- small glass of sherry
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp cream
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Leave the balls to rest in the fridge for ast least an hour, a day is even better.