GERMAN MEATBALLS IN CAPER SAUCE
I Love Meatballs!
by Rick Rodgers
In Germany, these tender, braised meatballs flavored with the slightly bitter accent of capers are called Konigsberger Klopse ("meat dumplings from Konigsberg"). The once-mighty capital of East Prussia is now called Kaliningrad and is in Russian territory. To help the meatballs keep their shape, chill the mixture before shaping, and then refrigerate the balls before braising. Buttered spaetzle or noodles would be a fine accompaniment.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound ground round (85 percent lean)
• 8 ounces ground veal
• 1 medium yellow onion, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
• 2 tablespoons drained and rinsed nonpareil capers
• 1 quart homemade beef stock or canned reduced-sodium beef broth
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
• 3 tablespoons drained and rinsed nonpareil capers
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1. To make the meatballs, combine the bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl. Let stand until the crumbs soak up the milk, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, anchovy paste, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and whisk until the anchovy paste dissolves. Add the ground round, ground veal, onion, and capers and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the meat mixture into 18 equal meatballs. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
3. Bring the broth, 2 cups water, and the bay leaves to a boil in a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. One at a time, reshaping them as needed, transfer the meatballs to the simmering broth mixture. They will firm up when they hit the broth. Keep the broth mixture at a steady simmer. Cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
4. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Skim any fat or foam from the surface. Discard the bay leaves. Measure the liquid—you should have 4 cups. If necessary, boil over high heat to reduce to 4 cups, or add water to increase to 4 cups.
5. To Make The Sauce: melt the butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let bubble, without browning, for 1 minute. Whisk in the cooking liquid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking often, until reduced by about one-quarter, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the sour cream and anchovy paste and whisk to dissolve the paste. Stir in the capers.
Return the meatballs to the pot. Cover and cook until the meatballs are heated through, without letting the sauce come to a boil, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.