Tag: Meatballs of Europe

Legendary Dishes | Attignole (baked pork meatballs in pork jelly)


These tasty meatballs are a tradition of Normandy, made by the butchers of the region. Some butchers bake the mixture like a cake and cut it into pieces. One of these days we are going to persuade a Normandy butcher to share their ‘secret’ recipe. In the meantime this is the Fricot interpretation.

  • 500 g pork jelly
  • 500 g pork, minced
  • 500 ml water, hot
  • 400 g fatty pork belly, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g white bread soaked in 120 g milk
  • 100 g flour
  • 90 g onions, chopped small
  • 75 g shallots, chopped small
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 sage leaves, sliced

Combine the pork belly and pork mince, work in the soaked bread. Follow with the onions and shallots, the work in the eggs, sage and seasonings.

Using wet hands divide the mixture into pieces that weigh between 25 grams and 30 grams, they do not have to be an even amount.

Roll the pieces in the flour to form balls.

Put the pork jelly into a baking tray. Place the meatballs in the jelly. Sprinkle remaining flour over the meatballs.

Bake the meatballs in the jelly at 200ºC for 20 minutes.

Remove tray from oven, pour hot water over the meatballs, bake for a further 20 minutes at 220ºC.

Remove tray from oven, turn meatballs onto pale side, bake for 15 minutes to brown the other side.

Leave to cool.

Serve the meatballs cold in their cooking juices with bread.

Traditional Dishes | Boller i Karry Sovs (meatballs in curry sauce)


There is no debate in Denmark about the basic recipe for curry sauce. It is flour and curry powder melted in butter and gently simmered into a thick or thin sauce with a liquid medium that will be milk for general preparations or the cooking liquid of the meatballs with this dish, a family favourite, made with commercial curry powder that is mild and mellow, with just a hint of spice.

For many years meatballs in curry sauce was a tame affair. The meatballs were made with a combination of pork and veal, loosened with egg and a large quanitity of milk offset by white wheat flour, and flavoured with onions or shallots and black pepper and salt. The ingredients for the sauce remained constant.

Gradually this began to change. Intrepid home cooks and innovative restaurant chefs began to experiment. The onions or shallots were puréed in a small amount of milk and the flour was omitted. This method produced harder meatballs that had a stronger meat taste. Suddenly the meatballs that were accompanied with curry sauce fell into two categories.

  1. Soft meatballs with a mellow meat taste served with a mild milky curry sauce.
  2. Hard meatballs with a strong meat taste served with a strong aromatic curry sauce.

Inevitably the two versions began to merge. Apple flavour in the shape of cooking apples and apple vinegar became essential ingredients. Milk was replaced with chicken, meat or vegetable stock. Garlic added an aromatic flavour. Cream was used to balance the flavours in the strong version. The sauce began to include onions and then shallots were preferred and gradually the quantity was increased. The curry power was made fresh or commercial preparations from the Indian sub-continent were preferred over the Danish packets.

This is our interpretation of the traditional dish, with a home made curry sauce.

Curry Powder

  • 10 g turmeric powder
  • 5 g allspice, ground
  • 5 g cumin seeds, ground
  • 5 g fenugreek seeds, ground
  • 5 g garlic powder
  • 5 g icing sugar
  • 5 g mango powder
  • 5 g paprika, ground
  • Cinnamon, ground, large pinch
  • Ginger, ground, large pinch

Grind the seeds in a blender, add the ground spices, blend for a few seconds, until there is an even colour.


  • 500 g pork mince or 250 g pork plus 250 g beef or veal
  • 75 g onion, puréed in 60 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 30 g white wheat flour
  • Salt, large pinch
  • White pepper, large pinch

Curry Sauce

  • 600 ml cooking water from meatballs
  • 75 g onion, finely chopped
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 g curry powder
  • 15 g white wheat flour
  • Salt, pinch
  • White pepper, large pinch

Combine the minced meat, puréed onion, egg, flour and seasonings. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Form meatball mixture into walnut-sized balls. Place in hot water a few at a time and cook for 10 minutes until they are firm.

Sweat onion in butter for about 15 minutes. Add curry powder and flour. Add meatball cooking water, whisk into a smooth emulsion, reduce into a thick or thin sauce.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and carefully add the meatballs. Leave to allow the meatballs to absorb some of the sauce.

Serve with rice and a green vegetable.

Legendary Dishes | Frikadeller (pork meatballs)

  • 500 g pork, minced
  • 100+ ml milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp of flour
  • Butter, small piece
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Black Pepper, ground, pinch

Combine mince, onions, egg, flour and seasoning. Mix thoroughly and add the milk, little at a time. When the mixture makes a thack thack sound when you beat it, then it is the right consistency. It should be moist. Put in fridge for at least an hour.

Heat the oil in a pan and add butter. When the oil is warm, dip a big spoon (a tablespoon would suffice) in the mixture and form the frikadelles into an oval shape using the spoon and your hand. They should be more oval than round shaped.

After each frikadelle, dip the spoon in the hot oil so that the next frikadelle slips off the spoon into the pan.

Flatten the frikadelles slightly.

Fry gently until cooked though, about five minutes on each side. They should be still moist and spongy when served.

Danes serve frikadelles with potato salad and eat them cold on rye bread the next day.

Variations are more or less flour and oatmeal or breadcrumbs.

Legendary Dishes | Lihapullat (meatballs)


This is the meatball of Finland, a hint of mustard and paprika, deliciously succulent with a fried onion crust. Go here for the story of the history of the meatball.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • 100 g onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 40 g white spelt flour / white wheat flour
  • 30 g mustard
  • 30 g sour cream
  • 15 g bittersweet paprika
  • Seasonings
  • Oil, for frying

Work the onions into the beef with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add the mustard and sour cream, and using your hands knead the mixture until the fat starts to come off onto your fingers. Add the egg, followed by the paprika and seasonings.

Divide into 50 g balls, chill for 30 minutes.

Pour the flour onto a plate, roll the balls in the flour, shake off excess.

Brown gently in oil over a medium heat, about 15 minutes, until the pieces of onion darken and start to form a crust.

Finish in a sauce to keep them moist.

Legendary Dishes | Fricadelles Maison (home-made sausages)


The fricadelle has it origins in Europe in 1837 and 40 years later it was known in America where a recipe called fricatelli was featured in Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping published by the Buckeye Publishing Company of Minneapolis and Ohio. This was a book of recipes by home cooks. The fricatelli recipe was contributed by Mrs. W. F. W.

Chop raw fresh pork very fine, add a little salt, plenty of pepper, and two small onions chopped fine, half as much bread as there is meat, soaked until soft, two eggs; mix well together, make into oblong patties, and fry like oysters. These are nice for breakfast; if used for supper, serve with sliced lemon.

Mrs W’s recipe resolves the issue over the quantity of bread, which appears excessive until it is compared with the meatball tradition and the answer to the question, ‘what is a frikadelle?’

It is a meatball AND it is a sausage.

In Denmark the frikadeller is a meatball.

In Liechtenstein the frikadellen is a meatball served in a bread roll.

  • 450 ml milk
  • 300 g cooked chicken, minced
  • 300 g minced meat (from beef, pork, veal)
  • 250 g bread, soaked in the milk, drained, squeezed
  • 150 g onions, cut into small dice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 sprigs marjoram, chopped small
  • 3 sprigs parsley, chopped small
  • Nutmeg, 5 gratings
  • Flour, for rolling sausages
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Fry onions in oil in a small frying pan for five minutes, reduce heat to low, cover pan with a plate and leave to sweat for 15 minutes.

Place the soaked bread in a bowl. Add the chicken and meat, eggs, onions, herbs, nutmeg and seasonings.

Work into a homogenous mass, form into long sausages, roll in flour, fry on all sides in a pan with sufficent oil.

Serve warm with homemade potato fries and choice of sauce or with mitraillette.

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Wallonia | Frikadel or Frikandel?

When we crossed the border into Antwerp, the fast food traditions of the Dutch were evident in numerous frituur around the city including frituur centraal in the bowels of the grand railway station with its architectural magnificence.

There was the obvious cultural meld — bitterballen, frikandel, shaslik, viandel, the shoarma we had in Rotterdam, the stoofvlees we would taste in Ghent, served with fries, and the usual cultural influence from across the continent. When we got to Brussels, the Dutch influence was less evident. It was there we noticed the anomally.

It was not the metamorphosis that had changed Dutch frikandels into fricadelles, from sausages into meatballs, and into a frituur food called mitraillette. Somewhere between the Dutch low lands and the Belgian hill lands, the frikandels had lost their ‘n’!

At the time we did not give it any thought, I think we passed it off as a spelling mistake, until some years later when the debate about these fast foods focused the minds of those who wanted to sound the alarm about the dangers of food additives – ‘certain additives present in fricadelles are not recommended for health,’ they said.

Dangers Alimentaires announced that ‘the fricadelle (or fricandelle) is a sausage known to all in the north of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Traditionally cooked in oil, this 18 cm sausage can be found in all friteries‘.

Of its composition they remarked, ‘everyone knows what is inside but nobody says it,’ that it is a top secret and they lamented, ‘Fricadelles were once made by butchers, now everything is industrialised’.

Did you see it? That ‘n’!

So we decided to resolve the mystery and soon found we were not alone in our quest. Frikadel, Wouter van Wingerden discovered, was a minced meat preparation – a ‘kind of meatball’ – with an old history. It had been in dictionaries for a long time and was still known in modern Belgian dictionaries as a meatball. He discovered something else.

Gerrit de Vries was a snack manufacturer from Dordrecht. In the 1950s he came up with a recipe for frikadel. But there was too much flour in his meatballs. He was told he was not allowed to use the name frikadel, so he changed the shape, put an ‘n’ in and the frikandel sausage was born.

Or was it?

Wouter van Wingerden revealed an earlier mention of the frikandel sausage from a 1943 newspaper?”

It does not really matter. The traditional frikandel will never rival the commercial frikadel among fast food aficionados, all they will do is show the other side of this culinary universe!

Meanwhile the frikandel Gerrit de Vries created lives on in this homemade fricadelle.

Legendary Dishes | Gehacktesbällchen (beef meatballs)


The traditional meatball in Germany was always a liasion – a delicate preparation with chopped or minced beef, stale bread, egg and seasonings – served generally in a soup or with a sauce.

Occasionally a small onion or a shallot, a teaspoon or two of mustard and a garden herb would be added to give some depth of flavour to the meat.

Meatballs cooked in a broth to make meatball soup is a tradition shared by all the northern European countries.

Some cooks would add root vegetables.

In Germany meatballs were cooked in a meat broth with potatoes and sometimes the meatballs flavoured the potato water.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • 50 g onion / shallots, chopped small (optional)
  • 50 g stale bread soaked in 175 ml full-fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp mustard (optional)
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 3 sage leaves / 3 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • Oil, for frying

Press liquid out of bread and transfer to the shallots. Leave them to soften for about an hour, then add to the beef with the bread. Combine with the egg, mustard, egg, thyme and seasonings, knead into a loose dough.

Divide into 30 gram pieces, shape into small balls.

Brown in a frying pan for a few minutes.

Serve in soup, or in a sauce.

Legendary Dishes | Kartoffelsuppe mit Hackbällchen (potato soup with meatballs)

  • 1.5 litres water
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled, cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 500 g beef mince with high fat content
  • 150 g onion, sliced
  • 16 croutons 2 cm cubed
  • 5 g + 5 g salt
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs, for garnish
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp oil, for frying

Place the potatoes in a pot with the water, add salt and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer.

Combine the mince with the seasonings, shape into 50 gram balls. Heat frying pan, add oil and fry the balls in batches over a high heat. Remove to a plate.

Add a little more oil to the pan, fry onions until they start to take on colour at the edges.

Add the meatballs, onions and seasonings to the potato pot.

Deglaze the frying pan with a tablespoon of liquid from the potato pot, add the deglazed liquid to the pot.

Cook for 30 minutes, until the potatoes have melted into the soup.

Serve with a garnish of croutons and herbs.

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Izmir | Köfte | The Story of Meatballs, Part 1

As we have seen meatballs, older than the meat mincer, are ubiquitous throughout the continent. They were well known to the Romans and probably arrived in Italy with the Etruscans who probably learned them from the eastern Mediterranean cultures.

Their popularity comes from the easy availability of ingredients and the simple method of production.

The meatball is generally made with minced meat, breadcrumbs, egg, herbs, onion and seasoning, then fried, baked or boiled, and often finished in a sauce or soup.

Regional differences, cultural influences and variable techniques characterise the meatball.

In Poland, Ukraine and Russia the influence is the bulette, a recipe brought to Berlin in 1700 with the Huguenots. Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany share the same basic recipe.

In the Balkans bulgur or rice alters the texture, which is the result of double mincing, a technique also favoured by the Turks.

The countries of the Mediterranean have a schizophrenic attitude toward meatballs. They are either light and simple with nothing more than an egg and a tablespoon of cheese to bind the meat or heavy and complicated with numerous combinations of grains, herbs, legumes, spices and vegetables to enrich the meat.

The Turks boast nearly 300 varieties of köfte, including çiğ köfte (raw meatball), which combines bulgur, onions, water, paprika, mint, parsley and lemon with beef.

Meatballs are among the national dishes in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

Apicius recorded a recipe for meatballs in pork caul that included minced meat, crustless bread, wine, ground pepper, garum, myrtle berries, pine nuts and whole peppercorns.

Replace the wine with milk, add butter or oil for the garum, egg instead of the caul for binding and you have a meatball similar to one made 2,500 years ago.

It was far from the first.

If there was such a thing as a standard western ‘European’ meatball it would probably be something like the version below. There is no such thing as a standard eastern European meatball, even though it is likely the meatball tradition originated in Anatolia and in the Levant.

Köfte TURKEY beef and lamb meatballs

Köfte, minced meat in Farsi, have been integral to Turkish cuisine since the 1300s when they were introduced to the Ottoman palace kitchens and quickly became popular.

Although meatballs have been around much longer, the varied use of minced meat, cooked and raw, in Turkish cuisine has transformed köfte culture.

A traditional köfte “meat” ball will contain various meats and is generally enriched with the same ingredients – breadcrumbs, eggs, onions and seasonings – much like the European tradition.

What makes the Turkish meatball different is in the method, and one that was established a long time ago.

This köfte recipe produces arguably the best meatballs on the planet, but se are biased.

It originated with Mehmet Kamil‘s Melceü‘t-Tabbâhîn (Resource of Cooks) and was adapted by Özge Samanci and Sharon Croxford, of the Istanbul Food Workshop, for their Flavours of Istanbul book.

We tweaked it a little.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • 400 g lamb, minced
  • 120 g onion purée
  • 90 ml water
  • 30 g butter
  • 2 tsp green pepper, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine meat, onion purée, cinnamon, pepper and salt, knead for five minutes until the fat comes off on the hands, shape into 25 g balls. Place small bowl in the middle of large frying pan. Put butter and water into bowl, arrange köfte around bowl. Cover, cook over low heat for 45 minutes. Serve with a sauce made from the cooking juices reduced with the butter-water liquid.

The European Meatball

Making homemade meat balls

If there was such a dish as the European meatball, influenced by the diverse food cultures, it might be something like this.

  • 1.75 kg beef and pork, minced
  • 180 g Dijon mustard
  • 175 g bread soaked in water
  • 120 g manchego / pecorino cheeses, grated 
  • 5 scallions, chopped small
  • 40 g breadcrumbs
  • 15 g mixed peppercorns, ground
  • 10 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped
  • 10 g Hungarian hot paprika
  • 2 lemons, zest
  • 5 sprigs marjoram, leaves chopped small
  • 7 g juniper berries, crushed
  • 5 g salt
  • 5 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped small
  • Sunflower oil, for frying

Combine the meat in a large bowl with the mustard and soaked bread, add seasonings and spices, berries and herbs, and zest.

Shape into small balls, half a finger in diameter.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spread breadcrumbs on a large plate, roll meatballs in crumbs, covering lightly.

Heat a thin film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, gently brown meatballs a few at a time. Transfer to a baking tray.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

… continued in part 2.

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Üsküdar | İçli Köfte (bulgur meatballs)

Crust (dough)
  • 500 ml  water, boiled
  • 350 g bulgur, fine ground
  • 150 g semolina, fine ground
  • 30 g walnuts, fine ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Semolina, coarse, for coating

Soak bulgar and semolina in the hot water, leave to rest for 30 minutes, then add the walnuts and seasonings. Wet hands and knead into a soft dough.

Core (filling)
  • 250 g beef, double minced
  • 200 g onions, chopped
  • 100 g walnuts, coarse chopped / fine ground
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
  • 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 45 g red pepper paste / tomato paste (quantity optional)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml pomegranate molasses
  • 15 g  red pepper (paprika) flakes
  • 1 tsp sumac, ground

Sauté onions in oil, about 15 minutes. Add the meat, break and fry for three minutes. Add paprika, sumac and walnuts. Increase heat, stir for three minutes until the walnuts release their oil. Stir in the molasses and paste, leave to cool.

If desired, work the herbs into the mixture. Divide dough into walnut-sized pieces, about 30 g each. Using thumb and forefinger make a cavity with thin sides in the bulgar dough. Place 10 g of filling inside the cavity, push down and fold dough over the filling, seal and shape into a ball.

Deep fry in sunflower oil at 190°C until golden or shallow fry in a large frying pan or bake in a 200°C oven or boil in salted water.

Note: The pastes can be bought in jars but they are easy to make if good fresh red peppers and tomatoes, preferably Turkish, are available.

Note: For a colourful description on how to make red pepper paste go here.

Note: The crust for icli köfte is not always made with bulgar. Semolina became a crust ingredient along with nuts aeons ago. Wheat grits have also played a part while in more recent centuries potatoes have been combined with eggs and flour. Some recipes call for double-ground meat to be added to the various flours that define the crust. The bulgar can be coarse ground and also fine ground, the latter producing a crispy crust. The cooking method is also variable. According to Sahrap Soysal, author of A Cookery Tale, fried icli köfte are called irok, while the boiled version is known as igdebet.

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Zealand | What the frik, is that a meatball? | The Story of Meatballs, Part 3

Frikadelles and Potatoes

Tell a Dane their meatballs are burgers with a French origin and you’ll have a row before you can say ‘frikadeller‘.

The combination of minced pork, flour, egg, onion and milk formed with a tablespoon into an oval shape has tantalised Danes for centuries. While it looks like a burger, to the Danish eye it is a moist and succulent meatball that can be eaten hot or cold.

It is shallow fried quickly on each side in hot oil to caramelise the pork, then cooked over a low heat for no more than ten minutes – turned once. The result should be a spongy caramel-brown squashed meatball.

If you overcook it, and it is said some Danes secretly prefer it hard and dark-brown, you might have to explain that the menu has changed. ‘We are having köttbullar, the frikadelles are off the menu.’

The frikadeller is not just anyone’s meatball, it is a Danish meatball cooked to perfection. If it isn’t you have no right to serve it as a frikadeller.

Of course if your guests ask you what köttbullar are, you will have to admit that yours are meatballs that look like burgers. Real köttbullar are small round … err … meatballs, generally associated with neighbour Sweden.

Then you might run into trouble with the Bavarians in your company, who will point out that you have actually served fleischpfanzerl, meatballs that closely resemble the shape of burgers.

Whatever you do, don’t claim to be serving burgers. This will have the Bavarians in stitches, not to mention your Berliners who will remark that your Berliner buletten look nice. ‘Pity they are squashed, they should be perfect discs.’

‘What! Like burgers?’

Of course this is your problem. Danish frikadelles are not burgers, or dumplings or croquettes or patties. They are made from pork with a subtle amount of flour, egg and milk to make the mix ‘thack thack’ when stirred (plus onion, salt and pepper for seasoning), left in the fridge for at least an hour, then shaped into ovals and squashed in the frying pan.

Hakkebøf is what you are looking for if you want a burger in Denmark.
Called hakkebøf med bløde løg og brun sovs, it translates as chopped beef with soft onions … and brown sauce, the very same one you can put on your frikadeller!

As for its French origin, Danes with a knowledge of French will admit that the dish once known as fricot is a clue.

A frikadeller is a popular tasty dish, a fricot in other words, which is nothing remotely like a burger … or a meatball.

Frikadeller DENMARK tasty pork meatballs

  • 500 g pork, minced
  • 100+ ml milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp of flour
  • Butter, small piece
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Black Pepper, ground, pinch

Combine mince, onions, egg, flour and seasoning. Mix thoroughly and add the milk, little at a time. When the mixture makes a thack thack sound when you beat it, then it is the right consistency. It should be moist. Put in fridge for at least an hour.

Heat the oil in a pan and add butter. When the oil is warm, dip a big spoon (a tablespoon would suffice) in the mixture and form the frikadelles into an oval shape using the spoon and your hand. They should be more oval than round shaped.

After each frikadelle, dip the spoon in the hot oil so that the next frikadelle slips off the spoon into the pan.

Flatten the frikadelles slightly.

Fry gently until cooked though, about five minutes on each side. They should be still moist and spongy when served.

Danes serve frikadelles with potato salad and eat them cold on rye bread the next day.

Variations are more or less flour and oatmeal or breadcrumbs.

Hakkebøf DENMARK burger

Traditionally made with soft onions and served with a brown sauce *1 on boiled potatoes, an equal amount of veal is sometimes used with the beef to increase the meat to fat ratio.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper, ground

Thoroughly work the seasoning into the meat, divide into four equal balls, flatten and criss-cross with a sharp knife. Fry until cooked or brown in frying pan, and bake in a 175ºC oven.

*1 Traditionally made with beef bouillon or stock cube, the sauce calls for kulør (brown caramel colouring) but thick soy sauce works as an alternative.

In Liechtenstein frikadellen are served in small bread rolls

Frikadellen EUROPE meatballs

Eaten as a national dish in several European countries, frikadellen is usually made from minced meat, onions, egg, herbs, seasoning and breadcrumbs, fried, baked in the oven, cooked in a sauce or soup.

Its variations are largely regional, but they also reflect cultural differences.

In Poland, Ukraine and Russia, the influence is the Berliner Bulette.

Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany share the same recipe. The differences are with additional ingredients, which may include cheese, e.g. mozzarella, olives, tomatoes, brandy, whiskey or wine, spices like paprika.

Frikadellen come in various shapes.

  • 350 g beef, minced
  • 150 onions, chopped
  • 150 g pork, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g white bread, soaked in milk
  • Parsley, chopped small
  • 1 tsp traditional Dijon mustard
  • Marjoram, large pinch
  • Seasonings
  • Butter, clarified or oil

Incorporate soaked bread with the egg, onions, parsley, mustard and marjoram. Add mince and seasonings. Mix by hand. Shape into large balls.
Brown in butter or oil over a medium heat. Cook for seven minutes on each side.

Then there are meatballs for children, and that is a story (and a recipe) for another day.

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Berlin | Berliner Bulette | The Story of Meatballs, Part 2

The story of the bulette was featured in a major Berlin daily

Brought to the former Prussian capital by the Huguenots in 1700, the bulette is established as an institution, and now that we are in Berlin we can debate the peculiarities that make Berliners agree to disagree about ingredients and methods, then we can reflect on the meatball versions across Europe.

Berliner Bulette

  • 500 g beef / pork / veal, minced *1
  • 150 ml milk / water
  • 100 g onion, chopped small
  • 100 g soft white roll or two thick slices of a baguette, soaked whole in milk or water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g speck (bacon) *2
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped *3
  • 1 tbsp marjoram, chopped small *4
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped small *4
  • 5 g caraway seeds *4
  • 5 g dried green peppercorns, fresh ground
  • Nutmeg, about 1/6 of nut grated
  • Salt, large pinch

*1 A two to one ratio of beef to pork is usual but buletten can be made with equal amounts or all of beef, pork or veal.

*2 Small cubes of bacon can be fried in onion until crisp, added cold to the mix.

*3 Garlic can be added fried with the bacon and onions, or added raw.

*4 The herbs are optional. The amount of caraway is a personal decision because of its pungent flavour.

Preheat oven to 175ºC.

Squeeze out the liquid from the buns. Add to the mince with the egg, onion, nutmeg, herbs and seasonings. Combine into palm-sized balls, about 50 grams each, flatten.

Brown in a frying pan over a high heat in oil.

This will take a couple of minutes, turning constantly.

Remove to oven and bake for ten minutes.

Bavarian Fleischpflanzerl GERMANY Bavaria meatballs

The rival to the Berlin meatball is the Bavarian meatball. Dijon mustard is the principle difference between them. Despite similarities the two recipes have different origins, and are not related to the frikadellen family prevalent throughout northern and western Europe. The same applies to the Danish frikadeller and the frikadellen of Germany. And that story comes in part 3.

  • 300 g beef, minced
  • 200 g pork, minced
  • 100 ml milk / water
  • 100 g onions, chopped small
  • 100 g soft white roll, soaked whole in milk or water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g breadcrumbs
  • 30 ml oil
  • 25 g mustard (traditional Dijon made with verjuice or wine is favoured)
  • 15 g butter
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp marjoram, chopped small
  • 5 g black pepper, fresh ground

Incorporate soaked bread with the egg, onions, parsley, mustard and marjoram. Add mince and seasonings. Mix by hand.

Spread breadcrumbs sprinkled with salt on a large plate. Wet hands and take a palm-sized lump of the mixture, about 50 grams each. Form into a compact ball, roll in breadcrumbs.

Continue until the mixture is used up.

Brown in butter and oil over a medium heat. Cook for 12 minutes, turning constantly.

Meatball Combinations

ALBANIA Qofte — minced beef / lamb, breadcrumbs / bread, egg, feta cheese, flour, garlic, mint, milk, olive oil, onion, oregano, parsley, sunflower oil, seasonings

ALBANIA Qofte Shtëpie — lamb, biscuit crumbs, onion, egg / feta cheese, breadcrumbs, milk, mint, oregano, black pepper, large pinch

BELGIUM Ballekes — minced beef / pork, braised onion, white bread soaked in milk, egg, parsley, seasonings

CYPRUS Keftédes — minced lamb / pork, potatoes, egg, onion, mint, parsley, vinegar, seasonings / cumin / oregano / garlic

DENMARK Köttbullar — minced beef / pork / veal, onion, egg, flour, milk

FINLAND Lihapullat — minced beef, sour cream, onion, flour, egg, mustard, paprika, seasonings

FRANCE Attignole — minced pork, pork fat, white bread soaked in milk, eggs and flour, onion, pepper, shallot

FRANCE Attriaux — minced pork, liver, garlic, onion

GEORGIA Abkhazura — minced beef, pork, caul fat, vinegar, black pepper, garlic, onion, cayenne, coriander, fenugreek, salt, sumac

GREECE Keftédes — minced beef / chicken / lamb / pork / veal, eggs, onions, bread soaked in water, flour, seasonings, parsley, mint / oregano, thyme / garlic

GREECE Soutzoukákia — beef, spiced tomato sauce

ITALY Etruscan — pork caul with minced pork, crustless bread, wine, ground pepper, garum, myrtle berries, pine nuts, whole peppercorns

ITALY Polpette — minced beef / veal, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, seasonings / sausage/salami/herbs

KALININGRAD RUSSIA Klopse — minced beef / pork, bread roll soaked in water, onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, anchovies / mustard, seasonings / spices

NORWAY Kjøttkaker — minced beef / chicken, egg, potato flour or starch, oats, onion, milk or water, ginger, nutmeg, seasonings

POLAND Breslauer Klopse — beef, white bread, onions, Polish mustard, egg, capers, anchovies, seasonings

POLAND Klopsiki w Sosie Pieczarkowym — minced beef / pork, etc with mushroom sauce

POLAND Klopsiki w Sosie Sery Pleśniowe — minced beef / pork, etc with blue cheese sauce

POLAND Pulpety — minced beef / pork / veal / turkey, rice, semolina, onion, hard boiled egg, seasonings

ROMANIA Perişoare — double ground beef / lamb, rice, egg, onion, parsley, paprika, flour, seasonings/mashed beans

SPAIN Albóndigas — minced pork, veal / beef, lamb, garlic, manchego cheese, scallions, thyme, seasonings

SWEDEN Köttbullar — minced beef / pork / veal, onions, breadcrumbs soaked in milk, egg, parsley, pureed potato, seasonings

TURKEY Köfte — double ground beef / lamb, egg, onion, flour, red pepper paste, seasonings / bulgur, walnuts, paprika flakes, parsley

… continued in part 3.