Chicken Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)- Daring Cook’s Challenge

This month the Daring Cook’s challenge has transported me back to Amsterdam. Bitterballen is what Andrea has asked us to make.

The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Andrea from 4pure. She introduced us to one of her family favorites which is soon to become one of yours, too. Welcome to the world of Dutch Bitterballen!

chicken bitterballenSmall, round, bread crumbed and then deep fried, Bitterballen (plural for Bitterball), are a very popular snack served in Dutch bars and cafes

Literally meaning ‘bitter balls’, the name is derived not from its taste (which is anything but bitter) but from the fact that these are often served with bitters (herb-flavored alcoholic beverages) in Netherlands.

Though very similar to croquettes the obvious difference between the two lies in the shape- croquettes are oblong while Bitterballen are round. The other difference is that while croquettes are usually made with mashed potatoes, Bitterballen are made with a roux of butter and flour.

This roux is made into a salpicon by the addition of a liquid, either milk or stock, and some filling

The choice of filling can vary. One could use meats, vegetables, shrimps or cheese.

Traditionally, these were made with left over stewed meat. Though owing to their popularity this no longer holds true.

Andrea gave us recipes for beef, cheese and shrimp fillings but ultimately left it to us to choose what we wanted to go with.

I made these with a chicken filling and also used some fresh Parmesan cheese. Since I like spicy, I also added some red chilli flakes.

I made some fresh breadcrumbs from my home-made multigrain bread to coat the balls.

The filling was a little loose and wet, so next time I will use 1/4th cup less stock.

The ideal accompaniment to this delicacy is a smooth, mild mustard, but one could have it with just about any sauce.

Chicken Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)- Daring Cook’s Challenge

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

10 Bitterballen

Chicken Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)- Daring Cook’s Challenge

These are a very easy and delicious snack, very popular in Netherlands. They can be made in advance and deep fried before serving, making this an ideal finger food to serve at parties.

The possibilities for fillings is also varied and you could opt to make it vegetarian by omitting the stock and meat and replacing it with vegetable stock and chopped vegetables.

For the bitterballen:
150 gms boneless chicken breast, boiled and flaked
1 cup chicken stock
30 gms butter
35 gms all-purpose flour
1/2 a small onion, chopped
A handful coriander leaves chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
Salt to taste
2 Tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
For the crumb coating:
1 egg, beaten
All-purpose flour
Fresh bread crumbs or dry bread crumbs
Oil for deep frying
To make Bitterballen:
To make filling:
Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped onions, glazing (browning) for about 2 minutes.
Add all the flour and keep stirring for 3 minutes till the flour is slightly cooked.
Add the stock, keep stirring with a whisk till it comes to a boil.
Cook for another 5 minutes, till it becomes thick.
Add the chicken flakes, nutmeg powder, black pepper powder, salt, coriander leaves and chilli flakes and mix well.
Rinse a dish with water and remove the filling into it.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (it is better if it cools overnight).
To make bitterballen:
Place the flour, egg and bread crumbs in three seperate bowls.
Take a spoonful of the filling and shape into a ball.
Dip it first in flour, then egg and lastly coat with the bread crumbs.
Repeat the process if you like a thicker coating.
Place it on a plate and repeat with rest of the filling.
Keep the plate in the fridge while you heat the oil in a frying pan to 350°F/180°C (medium heat).
Check temperature by dropping a small piece of bread in the oil. If it sizzles and browns the oil is hot enough.
Deep fry the Bitterballen till golden brown.
Serve hot with some mustard on the side.