My husband's parents are both Dutch by birth. My father is Dutch, as well. These croquettes are a traditional delicacy.
A Dutch Christmastime Tradition
Christmas is a time for celebration. Families and friends come together, enjoying food and drink and often over-indulging in both. Food preparation is often done in advance of company arriving—sometimes even weeks before.
My husband's parents are both Dutch by birth. My father is Dutch, as well, but I have an English-born mother. She made a few Dutch traditional dishes, but not this particular delicacy.
I had tasted croquettes prepared by my husband's mother, my children's Oma. However, it was not until we were befriended by a Dutch couple, whose girls went to school with our boys, that we partook in the tradition of croquette-making. It is an adventure best experienced with very good friends, as the process takes three days of which two are best completed in a larger group. The three-day ordeal of creation, however, is well worth the final product.
Croquettes are extremely tasty deep-fried balls of meat that make excellent hors d'oeuvres. So, call your best friends, and once you have cleared a three-day period, break out the wine and have the following instructions handy to create this tasty Dutch tradition!
- 4 pounds roast, cut into cubes
- 1 pound butter
- 2 large onions
- White flour
- 3 (300-gram) canisters bread crumbs
- 3 packages rusks
- 3 eggs
- 1 bay leaf
- Parsley, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
- Maggi liquid seasoning (found in specialty food stores or your local Dutch grocer)
- 12 Knorr Beef Bullion cubes
- 1 very large pot
- 2 large, deep metal pans or various containers to hold completed croquettes
- 3 containers for holding egg mixture, flour mixture and rusk/bread crumb mixture
- Freezer containers
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Day 1: Prepare the Beef and Broth
- Put cubed roast into a large pot. Prepare 8 cups of very strong beef broth. I use 6 cubes per 4 cups of water to start. Boil the cubes of roast in the beef broth for at least 4 hours, adding more broth as necessary. Add the bay leaf and salt and white pepper to the meat as it boils. Skim off the foam and fat until no more appears. After 4 hours, you should have at least 10 cups of strong broth.
- Put the beef broth mixture in the fridge for several hours. When cool, skim off the fat and separate the beef from the broth.
- Using your fingers, shred the cubes of beef. Return to the fridge to await Day 2.
Day 2: Prepare the Beef/Flour Mixture
- In a large, pot melt the butter. Cook the onions until they are translucent.
- Add the beef stock one ladle at a time, heating each time until broth, onion, butter mixture boils lightly before adding the next ladle of broth. Repeat for 5 to 6 ladles of broth.
- Add flour in small amounts mixing well to avoid lumping. When the mixture develops a shine, add another ladle of broth. Mix well, add more flour and repeat until broth has been all used.
- Add white pepper, parsley and Maggi to taste, mixing well.
- Add the shredded beef and mix well.
- Put the mixture in the refrigerator overnight.
Note: This part of the preparation requires significant arm strength. Prepare to get a great workout for flabby arms!
Day 3: Assemble the Croquettes
- Take out the meat/flour mixture 3 or 4 hours before you plan on assembling the croquettes. You want the mixture pliable enough to be shaped into balls or logs.
- In one pan, crack 3 or 4 eggs and whisk them well.
- In a second pan, sift 3 cups of flour. It will accumulate lumps from the egg-dipped croquettes, so start with less so lumps can be screened out. More flour can be sifted in as required.
- In a third pan, place one container of bread crumbs mixed with one package of finely crushed rusks. The rusk/bread crumb mixture reduce the chance of burning the croquettes once deep-fried.
- Now the fun part begins. An assembly line of workers works best at this point as each person completes one job. Person 1 creates the meatballs (or logs). Person 2 rolls the dipped ball into the flour. Person 3 dips the floured meatball into the whisked egg. Person 4 rolls the ball into the bread crumb mixture.
- Place the balls (or logs) onto a tray to await deep-frying or freezing. The balls can be frozen for up to 6 months, but it is doubtful they will last that long.
Don't forget to keep the wine glasses filled for this part of the process!
Final Step: Deep-Fry the Croquettes
Croquettes are best prepared in a deep-fryer, although I have prepared them in hot oil in a deep frying pan.
- Set the temperature to 350°F.
- When the fryer has reached the desired temperature, place the frozen croquettes in the fryer basket and fry for 5 minutes.
Serve with gravy or your favorite mustard for dipping. Enjoy with friends and your favorite glass of wine for a perfect Christmas or anytime treat!