Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gehaktballen met jus

Woensdag Gehaktdag! "Wednesday is ground meat day". It used to be the marketing slogan for the butchering trade during the fifties and sixties, and even now, on many a Wednesday you can find children standing on a little stool at the kitchen counter, helping make dinner by learning how to roll meatballs in their little grubby hands, and sneaking small bites of the seasoned raw meat when the adult is not looking.

Why Wednesday? Presumably because the butcher would butcher harvest on Monday, cut on Tuesday and process all the leftovers into ground meat on Wednesday. Whether that's entirely true or not, I don't know, but it sounds plausible.

Broodje Bal
Dutch meatballs are a couple of sizes up from the average American spaghetti meatballs. Slowly simmered in their own jus, these carneous clods are versatile, easy to make and affordable, and one of those typical dishes that are somehow associated with "gezelligheid", grandmas and wintery dishes. Gehaktballen can be served in many ways: as your main protein with one of the various stamppots, by itself on a piece of bread, broodje bal, with a good lick of mustard or ketchup, or sliced and deep-fried with onion and served with peanut sauce, the famous bereklauw... The gehaktbal will endure practically any kind of culinary treatment: it's all good.

Preferably made with half-om-half gehakt, fifty percent beef and fifty percent pork, these meatballs will also do fine with an 85/15 (eightyfive percent meat, fifteen percent fat) ground beef. Too lean a meat will not do much for their flavor, you need some fat for the simmering and the jus. Since quite a bit of water is added at the simmering stage, the meat itself will have lost some of its calories, in case you were minding your diet.

Gehaktballen met jus
1 lb of ground beef, preferably 85/15 or half beef, half pork
2 slices of white bread
1/2 cup of milk
2 shallots or one small onion
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, ground
2 tablespoons of mustard

2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoons of butter

Mince the shallots or small onion. Add the meat to a bowl, mix in the shallots, the egg, the mustard, nutmeg, the salt and pepper and knead a couple of times. Cut the crust off the bread, soak it in the milk and add it to the meat. Dispose of the rest of the milk.

When the mixture has come together, divide it in four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, roll the meatballs throught the flour and set aside.

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven and sear the meatballs on all sides until brown. Lower the heat, place the cover on the pan and let them simmer for a good twenty minutes, then turn them over in the grease and simmer for another ten. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, cover and simmer for another twenty minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan, add 1/2 cup of beef stock to the pan and stir to loosen up all the meaty bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste and see if you need to adjust salt/pepper or bind the jus a little bit with cornstarch or flour, you decide.

Meatballs made one day ahead somehow always taste better the next day. Serve one meatball per person, and add a generous spoonful of jus on their potatoes for some good old-fashioned prakking.


3 comments:

  1. Yummy.. gehaktballen. Definitely one of my favorites. I love mine either on a bun with peanut sauce (satehsaus) or as a side with potatoes and vegetables and a generous spoonful of mayonnaise to dip the pieces of meatball in. And of course my all-time favorite is sliced in 4, then add 3 slices of onion, all put on a skewer alternating the pieces of meatball with a slice of onion (the famous berehap / bereklauw) deep fried and then add a generous spoonful of peanut sauce on it. There's just too many ways of eating meatballs :)

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  2. I looked for the receipe and found many but not all so appealing. This one is the most complete and genuine of all and I am going to use it!. So many thanks!

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  3. This is just how my mom from the Netherlands (who has since passed away) used to make her dutch meatballs. I remember her showing me in the kitchen how to make the perfect dutch meatballs when I was in my teens. Now at 43 I can't believe it but I haven't made them for my family til today. It is so incredibly nostalgic comfort food to be making these. My father would always request these about once a week, so it became a staple in our families dinners. Always made with potatoes, that you put the au jus on. I knew this was very similar to my moms when i saw you added the nutmeg. :)

    Thanks for sharing your dutch meatball recipe.

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