These delicious meatballs are cooked in salted water or broth like dumplings, then served with a tangy gravy made from the broth they simmered in as well as lemon juice, egg yolk and capers. They contain anchovy paste or minced anchovies and I strongly urge you to use them even if you don't care for them. The anchovy adds a depth of flavour without making these meatballs taste "fishy", something extra salt can't duplicate.
Whenever my mum used to make Königsberger Klopse, she would tell us four or five times while she was making them how delicious they were. I think this was one of her favourite dishes. I'm not sure if my mum made these out of veal or beef or a combination of the two. I looked up the recipe in my German cookbook, Das neue große Kochbuch, and it says a mixture of ground meat, so I used beef and pork. I did look into the history of these and it appears initially they were made only from veal and later on cooks began to mix in or replace the veal entirely with less expensive types of meat. I think lamb would be interesting here and would probably shift this dish from German to Greek.
I decided to use my stand mixer to make the meatballs because I loved the way my Swedish Meatballs turned out using this method, but if you prefer, you can still combine everything with a large spoon or your hands.
This recipe is adapted from an out-of-print German cookbook; Das neue große Kochbuch by Roland Gööck ©1963.
3-4 slices of sourdough bread or a crusty roll (enough to make about 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs)
small handful fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp milk
1 strip bacon, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground veal, beef, pork or a combination of any of these meats
1 large egg
1 large egg white (reserve the yolk for the sauce)
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups *beef broth (or salted water)
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
reserved broth plus enough water to bring it to 2 cups
up to 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp capers
salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed
cooked rice or boiled potatoes
Tear up the bread or roll (enough to make about 1 1/2 cups) and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add the parsley and lemon zest. Pulse until you have bread crumbs.
Empty the mixture into the bowl of stand mixer or a large bowl (if you are mixing the meatballs by hand). Sprinkle the milk over the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Heat the bacon in a skillet. When it begins to render its fat, add the onions. Adjust the heat to prevent the onions from burning and saute them until they become translucent and begin to brown lightly. Remove them from heat.
To the herbed breadcrumbs and milk, add the ground meat, egg, anchovy paste, salt, pepper and onion mixture. Combine everything on medium speed using the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes, or mix everything with a spoon or your hands until the meatball mixture is smooth and evenly combined.
Heat up the broth in a saucepan. Pinch off a small piece of the meatball mixture and cook it in the broth until it's done, to check and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. I added a bit more salt and ground pepper to mine. Turn off the heat, and cover the pot with a lid while you form the meatballs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The meat mixture will be tacky, if you wet your hands the meatballs will be easier to form.
Turn on the heat and bring the broth to a gentle simmer. Add the meatballs (you might have to do this in batches) and simmer them for about 10 minutes or until done. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and set aside.
When the meatballs are cooked, strain the broth into a 2 cup measure. Add enough water to bring the amount to 2 cups. Set aside.
Melt the butter and add the flour in your saucepan, then mix until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add the strained broth, stirring or using a whisk until you have a smooth mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about a minute.
Stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice at a time, to taste. I like my sauce lemony, so I end up adding the entire 2 tablespoons.
Whisk a small amount of the hot sauce into the egg yolk, then whisk in a few more spoonfuls of sauce, one at a time. Return the egg yolk mixture to the pot and stir for a few seconds. You want to heat it up, but not bring it to a boil otherwise the yolk might curdle the sauce. Lower the heat and stir in the capers and return the reserved meatballs.
When the meatballs have warmed up a bit, they will be ready to serve.
My mum usually served these with rice, but they can be served with boiled potatoes as well.
*Traditionally Königsberger Klopse are served with a "white" sauce which you won't get if you use beef broth. I'd rather use the broth instead of the salted water because I prefer the richer flavour.