A treat on ballekesday
Scroll down to read and download the short version of the recipe!
Yes, a Wednesday passed by, but no new recipe arrived. It was quite busy at work lately. But the meatballs were served as usually and finally the recipe is available! In this article you will learn how to make meatballs from Liège.
Liège is a city situated in the French speaking part of Belgium. I personally have been there only a very few times, and I mainly visited the train station that is key to many train connections. It is one of a lovely architecture though. About the city, my boyfriend and I went there last year, but we didn’t choose the day wisely.
A rainy visit to Liège
We went there to eat meatballs of Liège and were except of two men, the only people in the restaurant. We had quite a lot of fun about one of the men who had the tendency to almost scream when he was talking and who answered the question if he wanted something else with: “Mayonnaise, évidemment!” (mayonnaise, of course!!) And then he started to mumble about how one could not eat fries without mayonnaise. He just made the cliché of a gourmand Belgian a reality.
But then, it was a rainy day, a Sunday so everything was closed, and the city just felt desolate. Fortunately we know it is so much more than that. Many people talked about the beautiful aspects of it, so maybe we should just return with some sun in our back.
On Sirop de Liège
The base for the meatball sauce is a sirop made of pears, apples, apricots and dates. You can find more information on the website of “The vrai Sirop de Liège”. Don’t worry, on the top right, you can change the language to English (or Dutch, French, German, yes, that’s how we roll in Belgium, “one language is no language”) This sirop is a real treat and can also be used as a spread on bread. Something I absolutely love! But also on pancakes, or mixed in a fruit salad. Hmmm, so sweet.
I used an existing recipe that I found in a Flemish magazine, you can find the link to the original here: “Luikse balletjes”. But I changed a few things about the quantities. First of all the meat, the recipe is for 4 people. We are only with two, but we’ve got a good appetite, so we’ll use 500 grams of minced meat. (before screaming hellfire, note that we don’t eat in the evening) For the sauce, I added some extra sirop, because I like it sweet.
Let’s make some meatballs!
When starting to cook, always remind to wash your hands and gather all the ingredients you need. Take a chopping board and prepare your shallots. You’ll have to chop them all, so best do that at once, before preparing the rest. Keep the quantities of two shallots separate. Two are for the meatballs, and two for the sauce. While you are chopping, you can also prepare the parsley. Chop or cut that too!
Take your bread, tear it in pieces and let this soak in milk. You can use any kind of bread you want, but the best is old bread. As you can see in my video, I use ciabatta, that’s our favourite bread.
Choose a pan or a pot with a sturdy bottom. Heat it and add a tablespoon of oil and butter. Let this melt and when the butter starts making it’s pretty noise, add the shallots. Stir the whole and let them get transparent. Don’t let them get (too) brown.
Mixing the meat with the spices and herbs
Take a large bowl that can contain all ingredients for the meatballs. Add the meat, the egg, the chopped parsley, thyme, savory, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Then check your bread and if it’s soaked enough (it should be quite soft), squeeze out the milk and add the bread crumbs to the bowl. Add the glazed shallots and mingle everything until the ingredients are evenly spread.
Now it’s time to form some meatballs! Make them large, maybe with a diameter of 5-7 cm.
Reheat the pan or pot you used for the onions and add some extra oil and butter. There should be quite some in it, because this will help bake the meatballs. When everything is melted, add the meatballs and bake them brown on all sides. If they are brown on all sides, get them out of the pot and start the sauce. They don’t need to be completely done.
The sauce with sirop
Get back to that pan or pot you used before and definitely don’t clean it out! Add some extra butter if you see that there isn’t enough. Add the shallot and fry until transparent. When the whole is starting to simmer too much and it may get brown, it’s time to bring in the balsamic vinegar. This will make the whole splutter and splatter, so be careful. Now you just add all the other ingredients: the bay leaves, the sirop, 300 ml of water, pepper and salt. Mix it all together, add in the meatballs and let this simmer.
Note: if you prefer a thicker sauce, just take out some of the liquid (maybe 100 ml) and mix this with a tablespoon (or more) of flour. Make sure it gets well dissolved and then add it to the sauce while stirring. This will make your sauce thicker, but don’t overdo it!
Add the meatballs with the sauce, cover the pan or the pot and let it simmer on the stove for another 20 minutes or until the meatballs are done. You can also put your pot in the oven, as I did in the video. I like putting things in the oven to finish it. Make sure you cover the pot well and that it’s heat resistant.
Time to serve!
You can serve this with fries, that’s a classic way, or with mashed potatoes. Of course you could serve it with whatever you want! In your kitchen, your rules! (except for the laws of nature and chemics, don’t mess with those)
Please tell me in the comments if you prepared this recipe! I’m sure you’ll like it. You can also use the mixture for the meatballs to prepare a meatloaf. My mother did this and she said it was a success. Don’t forget to watch the accompanying video and follow my channel.
Do you know any other ways of preparing the meatballs from Liège? Some people say, you should add raisins. Good idea or not? Let me know!
Download the recipe here: