A christmassgift for my three brothers
This is a miniseries to honour my beloved brothers! They make me feel loved and I have always been proud of their achievements. We’re all very different, and of course, sometimes I’d like to push them of the stairs, but in the end we always reconcile and get along! We don’t get to spend Christmas together this year and it makes me quite sad. That’s why I had the idea to create my own meatball recipes for them. Maybe they will cook it and it will be as if we spend some time together after all. The three of them are great cooks!
My oldest brother: the way maker
The series starts with my oldest brother, Thijs. He’s eleven years older than I am and he is a kind, joyful man. He’s got a lot of humour and he’s very hardworking. He’s an informatician and a brewer. In this recipe we’ll use one of his most known beers: Koeketiene. You can check the information about his brewery on his website.
I could tell you many anecdotes about him, but this has marked me a lot. Thijs is my oldest brother, so he had to make way for many things. One of those was that he continued studying after secondary school and he stayed in a student’s house. In Belgium, we call that “a kot”. Many students rent rooms in one house and they share certain parts, as the kitchen, bathroom and lounge. During the weekend, they often return to their hometown and spend time with their family. I was only seven at that time, but I found it fa-bu-lous. Apparently, I even declared at that time: “When I’ll be older, I’ll also go studying and live in a kot. But it will be faaaaar away.” That’s no doubt the moment when the seed was planted to move to Brussels! Thijs was my example for being an independent person.
An important element: Koeketiene beer
For the recipe, I started experimenting with different kinds of meatballs. I may write a small blogpost on how I chose the final recipe very soon. The central element of this meatball recipe had to be the Koeketiene beer. For me the taste is quite accessible, but it is treacherous, as you may want to drink more than you can handle. Always drink alcohol with measure! Only ogres can do whatever they want without bearing any consequences. And if you can read this, you’re probably not an ogre.
I tried to get a fruity, Christmas like taste in the meatballs. I use a mix of minced beef and pork, dried apricots cut in small pieces, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg to bring taste to the meat. I also added bread that has soaked in milk, and an egg. Combine all these ingredients together and form meatballs.
Meatballs with apricot
Heat a pan or a large pot, add the olive oil and butter and bake the meatballs brown on all sides. I use a cast-iron pan, because you can reuse it in the oven. A sturdy pot with a lid is ok too. The meatballs don’t have to be done completely, as they will continue to bake with the sauce.
When the meatballs are brown, you can take them out of the pan and start with the sauce. First you’ll have to cut the onion in slices. The stripes of onion really give a nice look to the whole plate. If you prefer, onion rings or little onion cubes are also ok. You should cut or chop the garlic as small as possible.
Sauce with beer, bacon and onion
Reuse the same pan or pot from before, heat it and add the bacon cubes. Let the fat melt. You could slightly brown the bacon cubes if you like that, just make sure the fat has melted. If you’re not a huge fan of the bacon fat, dip a paper towel into the grease to get it out, and add a tablespoon of olive oil.
As soon as the fat has melted, add your onion and the garlic. Stir and let simmer until the onion gets softer, transparent and maybe light brown.
Spoon by spoon, add the beer, the fleur d’oranger and vinegar. Don’t do it too quickly or your pan will cool down. Take your time. Do this step carefully! Add the thyme, sage, bay leaf, cinnamon and salt. Give a few turns of the peppermill. Stir all herbs and spices well into the mixture. Add the meatballs and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Cover your pan with aluminium foil (or something heat resistant) or pot with the lid. Now you can choose: put the whole in the oven to finish there or let it simmer on low heat on the stove. Check the meatballs frequently and cover them with the sauce. If you notice the sauce is getting too reduced, you can add an extra 2 tablespoons water for 1 tablespoon of fleur d’oranger or beer. Don’t use the beer or fleur d’oranger pure, as the taste of the sauce could get too strong.
Serve this with couscous, as I did, or with cooked potatoes or fries. I chose couscous, because the apricots and the fleur d’oranger gave me a “tajine” vibe. It also combines well with the onion and bacon cubes.
Next week in this “meatballs for my brothers mini-series”: baked spaghetti meatballs for my second brother, Ward!
Tell me in the comments what you think about the recipe. Would you change anything? Don’t forget to read my other meatball recipes and check the videos on my youtube channel (link)!
Download the recipe here: