“Don’t listen to him please, there should not be any anchovies in it.” “With cream? How dare you even suggest!” Nothing beats conversations about food: that’s why we love to share food with our friends at our kitchen tables. While starting dinner with some Berlin friends, a table full of bowls with boiled potatoes, a red beet salad and steamy hot meatballs, the inevitable question arose: how should these famous DDR meatballs, Köningsberger Klopse, be made? It’s a typical dish from Prussia and can be made with or without anchovies, and with or without a cream sauce. By the end of the discussion, all food was finished, and everybody was happy. The next day, one of the friends that had been over for dinner, gave me this recipe that his grandmother had passed to him.
Main course, serves 4
Action Time: 45 minutes
For the meatballs:
17.5 oz/500 g organic ground beef
7 oz/200 g fresh breadcrumbs*
3-4 shallots, finely chopped
4 canned anchovies, finely chopped
2 egg whites
1 tbsp capers, chopped plus extra for serving
4-6 cups/1-1,5 liter hot vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
5 whole peppercorns
1 onion, peeled and halved
For the cream sauce:
1.75 oz/50 g butter
1.75 oz/50 g plain flour juice of 1/2 lemon
3.5 oz/100 ml heavy cream
1 egg yolk
beet salad (see tip)
Extra: colander lined with a clean cloth or cheesecloth or use a very fine sieve
1. Start with the meatballs. Combine beef, breadcrumbs, shallots, anchovies, egg, egg whites, and capers and knead thoroughly. Add a fair amount of salt and pepper and shape into 16 equally large meatballs. Set aside. In the meantime, heat the vegetable stock in a large pan, add the bay leaf, peppercorns and onion. Place the meatballs in the stock, bring to a boil and immediately turn the heat low. Cook the meatballs about 20 minutes until done.
2. Once the meatballs are done, remove them from the stock with a slotted spoon and place them on a warm plate. Cover with aluminium foil to keep them warm. Strain the stock over a bowl. Keep 1,5 cups/400 ml for the sauce (freeze the rest for another use).
3. Put the pan back on the heat. For the cream sauce, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for about 3 minutes, don’t let it brown. Add the hot stock a little at a time, whisking constantly. Keep whisking until all stock is absorbed. Add the lemon juice, cream, and egg yolks and bring to a boil. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, reduce the heat and add the meatballs to the sauce. Heat through for about 5 minutes. Serve on a platter and garnish with some capers. Serve with boiled potatoes, a beet salad, and a good bottle of red wine.
*In Germany, we buy our breadcrumbs fresh at the bakery. I hardly ever use a package from the supermarket. You can make your own breadcrumbs by processing some slices of old bread in a food processor. For this recipe you can also soak a few slices of bread in vegetable stock. Squeeze the excess of stock out and mix the soaked bread with the ground beef.
Halve and slice 1.2 lb/500 g cooked beets, and combine with some white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over some chopped chives.