Bitterballen are a staple in old Dutch cooking and have been modernized quite a bit over the years and essentially made a bit healthier. Originally served alongside a Dutch bitter Gin, hence the name, these snacks are seen throughout the country in many different forms. These lovely snacks and medium-sized meals are essentially a fried meatball. Typically loaded with fresh herbs and made in various ways, a common version is where the meat and herbs are mixed with mashed potatoes or another starchy vegetable, deep fried, and served with spicy, herbed mustard. Here is an adapted & healthier version from Ger-Nis.
Bitterballen Ger-Nis Style
Makes about 20 bitterballen
1 medium celery root, peeled boiled and mashed
1 small carrot, shredded
1 medium red onion, grated or chopped super fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped fine
½ cup cooked ground veal
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
¼ cup butter melted
3 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups breadcrumbs, superfine
Oil (for frying)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed celery root, carrots, onion and herbs, mix well. Add the ground veal and continue to mix well. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add melted butter and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Heat oil in a large frying pan.
To assemble bitterballen, take a spoonful of the celery mash mixture and form into a ball, dip in the beaten egg and roll or cover in the breadcrumbs. Place in the fryer and fry until balls are floating and they are cooked through about 3 minutes. Take out of oil and place on a towel so that the excess oil drains off. Serve warm or hot with the mustard!
Herby Spicy Mustard-Dutch Style
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup black mustard seeds
¼ cup brown mustard seeds
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
¾ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup water
In a small, non-metallic mixing bowl, cover the mustard seeds with the sugar, tumeric, salt, ½ cup of the vinegar and the water and soak covered overnight. Then, with a mortar and pestle pound the mustard seeds until coarse and broken to desired texture. Add the herbs. Add remaining vinegar and continue to mix and mash until coarse yet smooth. (A blender or coffee grinder works perfectly as well.) Place in a covered jar, and refrigerate.