I love travelling and I often use food as reminders of the good times I had at certain destinations. For example, when I make coconut ice cream, I immediately think of the fun times I had in Barcelona. It's been years since I was last in Barcelona but I will always remember that hot day after touring the Picasso Museum, then going to an ice cream parlour nearby and treating myself to some amazing coconut ice cream. So good!
But as often I cook food from places I've never been, but very much inspired with, and wishing one day I'll be able to visit them. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through a travel magazine and came across an article about bar scenes in the Netherlands. Though I have actually been to the Netherlands, at the time I was really young and not age appropriate to check out the bar scene.
In the Netherlands, one of the most popular bar snacks to accompany a glass (or a round) of beer(s) or wine is bitterballen. So, in the spirit of recreating that bar experience at home, that's what I make for dinner tonight.
If you don't know, bitterballen are deep-fried breadcrumb-covered meatballs with creamy ragout fillings. It's crunchy on the outside and soft, meaty gooey in the inside. Bitterballen are traditionally made with beef but use whatever you want, chicken, turkey, veal or even mushrooms if you want to make it vegetarian friendly. This time I opted for minced pork.
These little mouthfuls are so easy to make and if you're making a big batch for larger group, you can make make them in advance and fry for a couple of minutes before serving. Now, this is what you have to do: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and fry 200 gr of minced pork with half very finely chopped onion, until the mince is brown all over and the onion is soft. Season with salt and black pepper.
Ok, whenever I am cooking with pork, I have this irresistible impulse to add fennel seeds... Perhaps it's the Italian in me. And this time, however untraditional, is no exception. So, if you wish you can add that too.
Put the fried pork and onion (and fennel) in a bowl and it's time to add more seasoning. First on the list, nutmeg which adds a warm, sweet spicy flavour but use it sparingly. A little bit goes a long way. Then add finely chopped fresh parsley; and the zest and juice of half a lemon. Give everything a stir, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Set aside.
Melt 25 gr of butter in a saucepan and add a heaped tablespoon of plain flour. Stir the flour around and cook for 2-3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Gradually stir in milk, just enough to form a thick sauce. This sauce is going to be the glue to bind the pork.
Add the sauce to the meat mixture and mix until well combined. Set aside to cool. I find it is easier to shape the meatballs when the mixture is fridge cold.
One cool, using a measuring spoon, divide and shape the mixture into small balls. About a tablespoon for each ball is perfect. I got 16 meatballs from this mixture.
Beat one egg in a bowl and some breadcrumbs, I use panko for the extra crunch onto a plate.
Heat some vegetable oil in a pan. You'll know the oil is hot enough when a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it.
Dip the balls into the egg and then coat in the panko. Fry the balls for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the balls on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Fry in batches and don't crowd the pan.
Serve with pickled onions and mustard. English is my preference but whatever you have on hand. Also because this boy loves him some bread, few slices of delicious dark pumpernickel bread. An of course, red wine.
Have a great one my friends... :)
My question of the day, what is your favourite snack to have with a drink?