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in the kitchen with: yvette van boven’s bitterballen

by Kristina Gill

My husband has a rule that we can’t go back (for travel) to any places we’ve ever been.  Food makes the memories for me and I fall in love with just about every place we go and I want to go back everywhere.  Two years ago we went to the Netherlands (the night after we got there Michael Jackson died and I’m still not over it!! RIP MJ), and it’s no exception (to my wanting to go back).  One day for lunch in Eindhoven at the restaurant de Witte Tafel, Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk introduced me to bitterballen, a small fried Dutch snack made with meat and roux. They were non-traditional, made with asparagus.  The next day, I wanted my husband to try to traditional kind, so we had them at our aperitif along the canal.  Ever since, I’ve wanted to know how to make them.  This week, food stylist and cookbook author Yvette van Boven shares with us her take on real Dutch bitterballen (with chanterelle mushrooms).  No surprise, this will go into my entertaining repertoire because it’s unique and can be prepared the day before, and fried right before serving.  -Kristina

About Yvette: Yvette van Boven is a freelance food stylist and recipe writer. She also illustrates books, newspapers, websites and magazines and together with her cousin Joris, she has a restaurant and catering business, called aan de Amstel in Amsterdam.
Yvette’s first book, Home Made, was published in the Netherlands in 2010 and won the prize of being Best Dutch Cookbook 2010 in November and was awarded as best debutant in the Netherlands by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2010. It has also won the Dutch award for being ‘Best Dutch Informative book 2010’.  It has been translated into English and will be available worldwide in just a few weeks.  The U.S. launch will take place in New York on 31 August with a booksigning and demonstration at Brooklyn Kitchen.  Visit Yvette’s site for more info!

The full recipe continues after the jump…

Real Dutch Bitterballen with Chanterelles


1 onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plus 1 handful of flour
1/2 cup (75ml) White Port
2 cups mushroom broth (500ml)
salt, pepper, nutmeg
3 cups chanterelle mushrooms (250 grams)
1 handful of parsley
2-3 eggs
1 handful of fine breadcrumbs

Day 1:

Make the filling:

Fry 1 Onion (chopped) in a wide pan with the butter.  Once the butter has melted add one tablespoon of flour.  Stir and let cook a bit.  Add the White Port and mushroom broth.  Salt and pepper to taste and add some nutmeg.  Add the chanterelles and parsley, and cook this until a thick roux forms.  Let this mixture chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2:

Set up your assembly line:  Set aside three bowls, and a tray lined with parchment paper.  In one bowl place a handful of flour, in one bowl 2-3 eggs, lightly beaten, and in the last bowl, your breadcrumbs.

Divide the mixture in half and roll into two logs.  Cut each log into equal parts, about the size of a large grape.  Roll each ball in flour, then dip in the egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.  Repeating the last two steps will help to form a thick, firm crust.

Heat your oil to 350F degrees (180C degrees).  Fry the bitterballen in small batches.

Serve immediately with creamy mustard (made with one part sour cream, one part mustard) and beer!



{photography by Oof Verschuren}


Why Yvette chose this recipe:

I wanted to give a recipe for something traditional Dutch. However, being stubborn I enjoy turning things around to make it more ‘my kind of food’.  In Holland we serve bitterballen with drinks at the end of the day, they are usually made with slowly stewed beef.  This is my take on this recipe, also because it’s ‘chanterelle time’ now here. These are without meat, but no one says you’re not allowed to invent your own filling with meat or chicken. Or shrimps! Use a different broth for each kind of filling, but that goes without saying.  Enjoy!

Suggested For You


  • Yummy. The most common version in the Netherlands and here in Belgium is with leftover meat. So cut into small pieces of leftover chicken, porc, veal and add to the sauce. In Belgium you would eat this with French fries (euh, Belgian fries…) . A typical fast food meal :-D

  • One of my most poignant childhood memories is helping my sweet Oma (Dutch grandmother) prepare these delicious treats for an eagerly awaiting family. She passed just two months ago; what a great way to remember her this morning! Thank you!

  • I sure wish I had tried these when I was in Holland!
    Now, I’ll just have to make my own. :)
    Thanks for the recipe, looking forward to Yvette’s cookbook.

  • Food experiences are always the way I have memories of travel. I didn’t have these on a short visit to Amsterdam, but had them in so many, many years since my great aunt prepared them for me as a child. Can’t wait to try my hand at them and relive that experience.

  • I want to try these but roux is my kryptonite. It’s the only thing that never turns out right when I try it (thus I cannot make cheese sauce or gravy).

  • I was just discussing the menu for our orphan Thanksgiving (I open up my house to all of my friends who aren’t attending family gatherings) and we all agreed we needed something new and interesting. This is IT! Thanks for the fabulous recipe and inspiration :)

  • I once ate at Yvette’s ‘aan de Amstel’. Christmas Dinner with at my old work and colleagues. It was amazing! She is a very good cook, nice personallity and creates a great atmosphere.

  • This is one of my favorite tea company! (or coffee, for that matter). Thanks for the recipe. Did you try the croquettes too? They’re heavenly!

  • O yes, and the cookbook of Yvette is fantastic! I have it on my night stand, it has the most amazing pictures! You really need to have this one! X

  • My mother in law is Dutch and she makes these with meat though. They are a hit at every party and there are never any left overs!! I look forward to testing out this receipe.

  • They look delish! So ironic….we are considering moving our family (all 7 of us!) to Eindhoven for a new career opportunity for my husband and have read that the food is “nothing to write home about”. Now we’ll have something to look forward too!

  • @Tina I. Well, I don’t know how to weigh food in Eindhoven v new career opportunity, but you can always use the ITKW column to help put some great food on the table while you settle in (and after of course)! And of course there is Yvette’s book, too!! Best of luck with the new horizon! – Kristina

  • so amazing, I love cooking, but I have no enough time to enjoy, I spent a lot of time on my job, so it is so pity.

  • Wow – these looked so good, and were SO disappointing to try and make! I’ve since looked around the web and found several other bitterballen recipes that used roughly twice the flour and half the liquid. The smells coming out of the kitchen were amazing, though, so I’ll definitely be trying this recipe again with some tweaks to fix the consistency.

  • Hi Amanda, I’m really sorry it didn’t work out well. What went wrong? I do not know. I measured the ingredients out carefully and we took the pictures of the result. Umm. If the roux turns out too watery in consitance you can cook it a little longer so it can evaporate a bit more.
    Once cooled down it should firm up in the fridge.
    I know some recipes use more flour, but I personally think they get to taste more like flour too and that was not the taste I was looking for.
    I’m really sorry your first attempt turned out to a disappointment, please do try it again, I’m sure it should work out at some point and you’ll get the hang of it!
    Good luck and tell me if it went well,

  • Oh, how nice! A friend of mine tried to make the original kroketten from scratch (longer bitterballen with meat), that didn’t work out. Apparently they are not so easy to make. Because we live in Holland it’s easier just to hop in a snackbar and get some premade ones :). These with mushrooms sound delicious though, and that’s something you don’t get everywhere here in Holland. Way to go!

  • Hmm – it’s probably that my idea of a “thick” roux is off and I need to brush up on my technique. Like I said, the smell and flavor was great, and I will be trying again for a roll-able dough to make those pretty balls instead of my sad-looking fritters. :)