I was born in the Netherlands and there are certain foods that aren’t available here, that are delicious, and sometimes very time consuming to make, so it’s a true treat when we can make it.
I’ve been craving kroketjes (pronounced crow-ket-yus) recently and I decided I was going to make them from scratch. To say this is an involved process is a huge understatement. There’s a lot of heat this, cool this, heat this, cool this, cool this, heat this, and then you can eat it. The waiting between heating and cooling makes this, at minimum, a full day’s work. I decided to do it over 2 days, because with kids it’s impossible to leave the littles “unattended” for too long (and especially when two of the procedures requires constant attention).
Just a little background. In the Netherlands you can get food out of a wall. I know, it sounds a little weird, but it’s the fast food of the Dutch, and it’s soooo yummy. The most common places to get it out of the wall (see picture) is at a central train station (which there are several of) or in large cities. Or you can go to a snackbar and get “frieten met mayonnaise” (French fries with mayo) and many other deliciously fried foods (along with kroketjes). Admittedly not necessarily healthy and definitely a treat, but oh so worth it.
Doing a search on Google, for images of “frieten in the Netherlands”, results in many images of fries with mayo slathered all over them. And the Dutch don’t stop at mayo, there are so many options and flavors/dips you can get.
So….. I did a quick search on Pinterest and the options seem to be very limited and many of the recipes are either in Dutch (not a problem here) or are poorly written/described. I did find one that seemed promising, so that’s the one I’m going with.
Here’s the step by step images (kind of) with descriptions:
Start off with 500g of eye round roast, I chopped it into large cubes, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 onion, sprig of fresh parsley (or a teaspoon or so of dried), 3/4 teaspoon of anise seed (I think it was too much, it’s pretty strong stuff, so I’d probably use 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon next time), a half stick of cinnamon, and 1 bay leaf. Put this all in a pot (I used a 4 quart pot) and cover fully with water. Bring to a boil (stirring constantly to avoid the beef from sticking to the bottoms) and then reduce to low. Let cook for 3-4 hours. My stove has number settings from 1 – 10 and I set it to 2. You could easily do this in a crockpot on low for several hours (I’ll try this out next time to see how long this would need to cook, but I assume at least 4-6 hours on low).
You want the beef to pull apart very easily with a fork. Take the beef pieces out of the broth and chop/shred it to very small pieces. Set this in a container and place in the fridge to cool. Strain the broth and reserve about 2 cups of the liquid. I cooked it down a little further, to make the flavor more dense, but this is no a necessary step. Put this in the fridge as well, until fully cooled (roughly 4 hours).
After the cooling process you’re ready to make the roux, or as it is referred to in Dutch ragout (rah-goo). This is a pretty simple, yet key, skill to have. The recipe calls for 60 grams each of butter and flour. This does not break down evenly to the tablespoons for tablespoons recipe you would normally find. It came out to a little more than 1/3 cup (just remeasuring it came out to 6 1/2 tablespoons of flour). If you have a digital scale, this will help significantly.
Melt the butter in a large skillet, do not do this too quickly (I did this on medium heat) until just before it starts to brown. Sift in the flour and stir until it’s combined and there are no more lumps. Continue to cook (and stir) for 3-4 minutes, until completely smooth.
After the 3-4 minutes add the 2 cups (1/2 liter) of cooled broth to the mix and stir until fully combined. Then add in the shredded/chopped beef. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to fully combine. Cook (and stir) for another 3-4 minutes.
Now this needs to cool another 3-4 hours (at this point this will probably be overnight, depending on when you started the process). I cooled it overnight.
Now comes the construction of the balls of roux and rolling them in fine breadcrumbs, egg, and rough crumbs. I ground my regular breadcrumbs in a food processors, for the fine breadcrumbs, and then used panko mixed with regular breadcrumbs, to get a rougher consistency.
Set out three deep plates one with 2 cups fine breadcrumbs, one with 2 whisked eggs, and one with the panko/regular breadcrumbs mix (1 cup of each). Roll out 1/8 cup sized balls of roux. Roll around in the fine breadcrumbs, roll around in eggs, and then roll around in the panko mix. Set these on a plate until you have all of the roux rolled out and breaded. These then all need to go into the fridge for another 2 hours, to set (again).
And now it’s time to fry them, after they’ve cooled (for at least two hours). Mine went for three.
Heat a small pot (I think mine is 3 quarts) with canola oil. I filled it enough so that it would cover the kroketjes with about 1/2-1″ of oil. Heat it to 180 degrees Celsius (roughly 350 degrees Fahrenheit) and add up to three balls of kroketjes. Fry for 5 minutes and then remove and place on paper towels (to catch excess dripping oil). You’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature as soon as you add the cold ones to the oil, you’ll notice a drop. Adjust heat accordingly. I was adjusting heat between 6.0 and 7.5 to keep the temperature between 178 and 182.
One other important thing to note, make sure you handle each ball carefully (as you transfer them from plate to spoon to oil) so as not to crack the breadcrumb coating. If it cracks the roux inside will leak out and cause the oil to splatter. You’ll notice, in the above picture, that one of the kroketjes is floating (that’s a sign it has leaked some of its contents). I use a slotted spoon to easily transfer each ball in and out of the oil, but I noticed that I broke two in the process of putting them on the spoon.
All in all a pretty decent recipe, but the anise seeds were too powerful and I would either remove them or use significantly less.
The best way to enjoy these is when they’re still hot. You can smoosh them on a hamburger sized bun and eat it with some Dijon mustard. I prefer them both plain and with mustard.
The meat and broth:
500g eye round roast (cut in large cubes)
1 stick of celery
1 sprig parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cinnamon stick
3/4 teaspoon anise seed
6 cups water
The roux (ragout):
60g butter (about 4 1/3 tablespoons)
60g flour (about 6 1/2 tablespoons)
Shredded beef (from above)
500ml (2 cups) of broth (from above)
For shaping kroketjes:
2 cups fine breadcrumbs
1 cup regular breadcrumbs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Canola oil (fill pot enough to cover kroketjes with 1/2-1″)
1. Combine all ingredients for the meat/broth in a 8qt pot or larger, bring to a boil (stirring to avoid the beef from sticking to pot), then reduce heat to low and let cook for 3-4 hours (until beef shreds easily with a fork)
2. Remove meat cubes and shred/cut beef into smaller pieces, place in container and cool.
3. Strain the beef broth from the spices/veggies and place in a container to cool for at least 3-4 hours.
4. After meat and broth have cooled it’s time to start the roux. Melt butter on medium heat and then sift in flour. Stirring constantly, cook for another 3 minutes.
5. Add in the 2 cups of cooled broth and stirring until well combined. Add in shredded beef and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper (original recipe also called for nutmeg, but my son is allergic, so I left it out). Stir and cook for another 3 minutes, then remove from heat, transfer to a container, and allow to cool (in the fridge) for 3-4 hours (this was overnight for us).
6. Time to make the balls and roll them in the fine breadcrumbs, egg, and panko/breadcrumb mix. I threw 2 cups of regular breadcrumbs into my small food processor, to made them fine (pulse for about 1 minute).
7. Set up three plates, one with the fine breadcrumbs, one with the two eggs whisked, and the third with the 1 cup of panko and 1 cup of regular breadcrumbs.
8. Roll out a ball of shredded beef roux (about of 1/8 cup), roll it in the fine breadcrumbs. Next carefully roll this ball in the whisked egg. Finally place this on the panko/breadcrumbs mix and throw additional breadcrumbs, from the same plate, onto the ball. Repeat with the remaining shredded beef roux.
9. Place these on a plate (try not to stack too deep), wrap with plastic, and place in fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
10. Time to fry. Fill a 3 quart pot 3/4 full with canola oil or an oil of your choice, that works well for frying. Heat to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile set up a plate or strainer/bowl lined with paper towels. Gently add 3 cooled kroketjes and fry for 5 minutes. Place fried kroketjes on paper towels and repeat until all kroketjes have been fried.
11. Enjoy these on a roll of bread with some mustard and a side of french fries.