As waterfowl season comes to a close, the delightful task of deciding how to prepare your harvest flies into the forefront. This recipe comes from the inspiration of a German dish, Königsberger Klopse, which is a classic dish using ingredients Americans don't usually associate with German food: capers, anchovies, and lemon zest. Historically, these meatballs are made from veal or pork, but as both the Germans and the Russians eat a lot of goose, I made them with goose. Duck, of course, will work as well.
Step 1: Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons duck fat or unsalted butter
- 1 cup minced yellow or white onion
- Kosher salt
- 1½ pounds ground goose or duck (if it’s a breast, you should be able to easily chop into small pieces)
- ⅔ cup dried bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste, or 5 anchovies, mashed
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups Basic Duck Stock or beef stock
- 3 tablespoons duck fat or unsalted butter
- ½ cup minced yellow or white onion
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sour cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Step 2: Begin Cooking
Heat the duck fat over medium heat in a small frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Do not allow it to brown. Sprinkle a little salt over the onion as it cooks. When the onion is ready, remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Step 3: Prepare Meatballs
Add the cooked onion, bread crumbs, anchovy paste, lemon zest, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper into a large bowl. Fit your meat grinder with the fine die, and pass the meat mixture through the grinder. Then add the eggs and Worcestershire sauce and mix in by hand. If using already-ground meat, in a bowl, combine the meat with all of the other ingredients and mix together with your hands.
*If you are not using meat that is already ground, you can make a better, smoother meatball by doing the following: cut the meat and fat into 1-inch pieces, and put them in a large bowl.*
Step 4: Shape Meatballs
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the meat mixture into small meatballs with a teaspoon, or by hand, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You can make them bigger, but a heaping teaspoon is a good size.
Step 5: Cook Meatballs
Pour the beef stock into a pan large enough to accommodate all of the meatballs at the same time. If you have a wide, deep sauté pan with a lid, that would be ideal. Using medium-high heat, bring the stock to a simmer. When the stock is simmering, carefully add the meatballs. When all of the meatballs are in the pan, turn down the heat as low as it will go. If all of the meatballs are not submerged, don't worry. Cover the pan and let the meatballs cook gently for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes have passed, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the meatballs and set them aside on a platter.
The remainder of the stock should be poured into a heatproof container and also set aside.
Step 6: Make the Sauce
Wipe the original pan out with a paper towel and use it to prepare the sauce. Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining duck fat. When the fat is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Do not allow the onion to brown. Add the flour and mix well, then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mixture is the color of coffee with cream.
Step 7: Add Meatballs to Sauce
Retrieve the reserved hot stock you set aside earlier and add it to the pan a little at a time, stirring constantly. Continue to add the stock until you have a sauce that's the consistency of thin gravy. You probably will not need all 4 cups of the stock. Return the meatballs to the sauce and add the capers. Turn down the heat to low and heat until the meatballs are heated through. Add the parsley and remove from the heat.
Step 8: Serve Meatballs and Enjoy!
Serve the meatballs immediately. Provide the sour cream and pepper at the table, and encourage diners to add as much as they like. This ensures the sour cream won’t curdle from overheating on the stove top and will allow diners to make their servings as creamy as they like.