Chapter 1500: Vleeskroquetten and hetebliksem

For our 1500th chapter, instead of going to a hopefully memorable restaurant as we’ve done for every 100th post the last few years, I asked Marie to make a Dutch dish. Here’s how it went.

This is an article based on recipes from my Dutch heritage. I spent enough time in the Netherlands at a young enough age to develop a taste for the national cuisine, and my mother made slightly Americanized versions of several of her favorites so we had those in my childhood as well. Every once in a while I make something Dutch, and sometimes discover a bit more of my heritage in the process.

A while ago I received as a gift the Dutch/English cookbook De Hollandse keuken / Dutch Cuisine. It is perfect for my purposes; the recipes have color photos so if I don’t recognize a name for an item I’ve eaten, I might recognize the photo. Each recipe is in both English and Dutch. Mind you, most of the measurements are in metric, but a) Google will translate and b) most measuring cups now have standard on one side and metric on the other. Nevertheless, I will be translating the measurements into standard for you.

Every element on the plate is Dutch. I made vleescroquetten (meat croquettes), hetebliksem (mashed potatoes with apple and ham) and pulled out a preserved jar of pears poached in red wine to a Dutch recipe that I’ve made several times before. I also added some applesauce, which went very well with everything, and is fairly common as well and also made closer to the Dutch style – Dutch prefer a much finer sauce than Americans; it’s practically a puree.

Vleescroquetten means meat croquettes. In the Netherlands, they seem to be most frequently made of veal. Grant and I don’t eat veal, and I’ve seen them in the Netherlands made of other things, so in this case I’ve chosen to make them out of a ground pork/beef mixture. My uncle loves the calf’s liver version so much he’d go out of his way every trip to eat them at least once a day, as you can’t get them in the US and they just don’t taste the same. Mine also don’t taste the same as the croquettes in the Netherlands, though I can’t rule out the possibility that this is just because the recipe isn’t something I make often and am therefore not showing you the best possible results. I would hesitate to invite him over to have croquetten without a good bit more practice. This was a pretty good first attempt, though!

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup plus a tablespoon of stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste (I used a shake or two each)
a few drops of lemon juice
1 egg, scrambled, with an additional tablespoon of water
breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Prepare a roux with the flour and butter. Finely dice the meat (if it isn’t already ground) and mix it into the roux with parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. You may want to save some of the stock for deglazing, as I did (not pictured). I doubled the recipe to make sure that there would be enough even if I spoiled one or two; the recipe as given only makes 4 croquettes. NOTE: you will need to do this step a couple of hours ahead of the time you plan to make dinner, because once prepared the meat mixture must be thoroughly chilled. Spread it into a soup dish, high-rimmed plate, or other flat but rimmed container. Once chilled, you can cut it into pieces and shape the mixture into smooth logs. The mixture should be about as soft as play-dough. Dunk them in the breadcrumbs, then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs again. Fry slowly until brown, drain over paper towels, and serve. Note: I didn’t want to risk my nice pan, nor to have oil splash around; since the batch was so small I chose to use my wok as a frying pan. Therefore I had a little difficulty making sure the croquettes didn’t touch, but the easier cleanup was worth it to me. It might not be to you.

Hetebliksem means hot lightning. I have no earthly clue why it’s called that. Anyway, one of the standards of Dutch cooking is that mashed potatoes hardly ever fail to have some other food mixed in. In this case, you boil some apples along with the potatoes and add ham. The original recipe calls for bacon instead of ham, but regular readers know my aversion to bacon – and ham works just as well (in my opinion; purists are welcome to disagree). It’s tragic, actually, being a disliker of bacon in the Netherlands. They find it just as crazy as my dislike of coffee, which is so alien to the national zeitgeist that even my own grandmother actually gave me silver cappuccino spoons as a wedding present. I don’t mind; the tiny box of tiny spoons is in my display cases along with the tea set I inherited from her. Most of the country is at least as much in love with the bacon and coffee as Americans, though they prepare both in different ways.

Ingredients:
An equal quantity of apples and potatoes (mix tart and sweet apples)
3 slices of ham or bacon per approximately every 4 pounds of apple/potato
some salt, if needed
milk, butter, and cream for mashing (to taste)

Boil the potatoes with the meat on top. Just before removing it from the stove, pull out the meat onto a cutting board and chop it fine. Pour out the water, mash the potatoes with milk, butter and cream, then mix in the meat. Consider a few drops of some tarragon vinegar as a topping.

Note: if you, like me, don’t fry things very often, I found this link to another cooking blog extremely helpful when working out a plan for making the croquettes so they would not burn: http://tablematters.com/2013/03/28/small-fry/

If you are unfamiliar with roux, this link seems particularly helpful: http://dish.allrecipes.com/how-to-make-roux/


That’s 1500 posts down and many, many more to go! Thanks so much for reading! We have lots more stories in the works for the next few months, and while we’re still not sure about any travel plans in 2017, we hope to provide some of the most fun and entertaining blogging coverage of the Nashville-Chattanooga-Knoxville region you can read, while uncovering many more restaurants and posting lots of great recipes! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t miss out on our terrific blog about classic TV and movies, Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time! And tell your friends about us, too!

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