Some dishes are inextricably linked to your childhood. Their smell brings about memories of Sunday family lunches and their taste soothes you like only the hugs your mother gave you when you were a small child once could. In my family home, Königsberger Klopse were always the best of treats. My mother – being a busy working mom – rarely had the time to engage in making this relatively intricate dish. When she did, she also always took a few shortcuts in the cooking process which, miraculously, did not stand in the way of her Königsberger Klopse being the best I ever tasted, and I am not even dreaming of ever achieving her mastery. I still love making it, though.
For the below recipe, I dug rather deeply into the origins of this meal. In its most authentic version, this dish is supposed to be made from finely ground veal although you will often find recipes suggesting beef and pork meat mixes. Anchovies bring in a nice salty flavor-kick, whereas herring is also used relatively often but does not seem to be the most authentic ingredient (some English-language claim it is called Rostocker Klopse when made with herring but I have found no corresponding source in the German-language internet – guess one has to travel to Rostock to know for sure). Lemon zest and ground mace round off the flavoring.
And then, there are the capers, of course. As a child, I would make sure that I would have enough capers left on my dish at the end of the meal for this one last heavenly bite of a big spoon-full of capers drenched in creamy sauce… Words cannot describe the bliss this meant for me. Well, it still does 😉
- 250-300 grams of ground veal
- 1 day-old dried brötchen (bread roll), grated (or ca. 50 grams of dried bread crumbs)
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 – 3 anchovy filets (10 to 15 grams), very finely chopped
- 1 mace, ground in a mortar
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- freshly ground pepper, salt
- 2 medium eggs
- 4 to 5 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- approx. 2 liters of vegtable broth
- 100 ml of white wine
- 50 to 60 grams of capers, preserved in brine
- 40 grams of butter
- 3 tablespoons of white flour
- approx. 250 ml. of milk
- 1 to 2 pinches of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
- Place the ground veal into a large bowl, e.g. a salad or mixing bowl. Add the chopped anchovy filets, the bread crumbs, chopped onion, the ground mace, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and eggs. Knead until well mixed. Add seasoning, if required. Cover with celluphane and let settle in the fridge for 1 hour in order to allow the spices to infuse.
- Towards the end of the fridge time, bring the vegetable broth and the white wine to the boil, add the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns. As soon as the broth is boiling, lower the heat to simmering temperature.
- Moist your hands with water and form small balls from the meat mixture (approx. 2-3 cm in diametre). Lower into the broth and let simmer under the closed lid for about 15 minutes. Then remove with a skimming ladle and set aside (keep warm).
- Pass the broth through a sieve. Set aside approx. 400 ml for immediate use, the remaining broth can be used e.g. for soups and sauces.
- Drain the capers. Prepare a béchamel by melting the butter in a heavy-based saucepot on medium temperature, then stir in the four with a whisk and keep stirring until well mixed (by no means let the mixture pick up color!), then stir in the milk starting with a small quantity, then adding the remainder bit by bit and ensuring that the mixture is at all stages smooth and no lumps are forming. Add the broth in stages, ensuring the sauce does not get too thin although it should be a bit more on the liquid side. Stir in the capers, and season to taste with the nutmeg, lemon zest, and freshly ground pepper and salt.
- Tip the meatballs into the sauce, just for about 1-2 minutes to heat through, then serve sprinkled with parsley.