Chez Bos has undergone its annual morphing into a food factory. Specifically, the BosKrokettenWerks. Perhaps you might be wondering: “What in the world are ‘kroketten’?” Fair question, but perhaps you might be familiar with the English (née French) word for them: croquettes, which Wikipedia describes as: “a small bread-crumbed fried food roll containing…mashed potatoes and/or ground meat.”
Since the Bos Lady and I are offspring of good and stubborn “Hollandse” stock, we have always called these tasty treats by their Dutch name, rather than the English-French version. Our recipe comes directly from my dad and mom – who respectfully called it The Recipe – so calling them anything but kroketten might have them wagging their index fingers at us! (Now there’s a theological discussion for us: Do people in heaven actually see and pay any attention to what’s happening down here? Ah, another day’s conversation!)
The shape of kroketten is oblong or cylindrical, and is not to be confused with the small, round versions of these edibles, which are called in Dutch: bitterballen. The Bos Lady and I have never made bitterballen because the old folks’ recipe calls for cylinder shapes, not round. Besides, bitterballen doesn’t sound all that appetizing. No, really. Think about it.
Canadians of Dutch descent enjoy kroketten on occasion throughout the year, but traditionally – at least in our upbringing – they are made and enjoyed in greater quantities before and during the Christmas season. It may be a case of saving and savouring special foods for special times, but I have a hunch it’s due to two main reasons: it’s a lot of work; and it requires a lot of meat. Meat ain’t cheap, and the Dutch ain’t not cheap, so I rest my case.
Every year, the BosKrokketenWerks gears up for another season of production with the Bos Lady frantically looking for The Recipe a few days before the assembly lines creak awake. Understand that The Recipe is handwritten on one of them cardboard recipe cards from days of yore. Legend has it The Recipe card was bestowed on the Bos Lady and me by my parents as the most coveted of all wedding gifts, but verification of the legend has proved elusive over the years. What is true is that the ages have left their indelible mark on the The Recipe card with faded print, murky stains, and droopy dog ears of time itself.
Please understand as well that the Bos Lady has several recipe card containers, each of which has several hiding places in our kitchen. So finding The Recipe card is never a simple, efficient task; no, not ever. As she looked for it, I caught wind of a rising commotion arising from the kitchen: cupboard and cabinet doors opening
and closing, strange mutterings growing up into loud potty mouth, and kitchen drawers slamming shut – all climaxing with a shouted question to the innocent dog (who really should have slinked out of the kitchen long ago if it had half a pea-brain to know when to hightail it): “WHERE IN BLAZES IS THE RECIPE???”
Now please also understand that the Bos Lady owns an iPad and an iPhone, and is well aware that it would be a grand idea to photograph all of her recipe cards, so she would know where they all are at any given moment. She also knows that these cards can scanned, too, and saved and filed for easy retrieval as pdf documents.
But alas, the Bos Lady is like most us: a full-blown creature of habit. So if the recipe cards were good enough 30 years ago when we shared “I do’s”, well dagnabbit, they’re good enough for now. That and the fact she habitually uses her iPhone rather than the iPad means that she’d be looking at photographed or scanned recipes on the small phone screen, which would lead to more stress and more frustration because it would be difficult to see and the phone doesn’t stay propped up, which would lead to more grey hairs underneath the colouring of the Bos Lady’s head, which would lead to: “I JUST CAN’T EVER GET USED TO THESE ROTTEN PROGRESSIVE LENSES! STUPID GLASSES!!!”
And then the glasses would be stomped underfoot and a few bowls shattered on the ceramic tiled floor and the dog would get kicked where he likes to lick, and Ron would be diving behind the couch.
So really, the recipe cards in their hide-and-go-seek boxes are better. Really better.
(Lest you are genuinely concerned here for the mental well-being of the Bos Lady, please understand I may have exaggerated things a wee smidgeon. The Bos Lady is a fine, well-balanced citizen. And no Jackson was hurt in the nether region nor any other.)
To cut to the chase, though, The Recipe was at last found, and kroketten planning could begin in earnest.
First on the agenda: get the meat. Usually this is my job, but this year the Bos Lady called on a lady friend to make a run to Costco for supplies. Well, the Bos Lady came home with a roast about the size of Prince Edward Island, and when I asked (cautiously) about the price, she patted me gently on the head and sweetly replied: “Don’t you fret, honey, I stopped at the Christian Credit Union for a loan on the way to Costco, and John and his staff were so very helpful.” I simply nodded, truly thankful for John and the fact my lovely wife chose not to kick me in the nether region.
With the meat at home, the Bos Lady began the arduous chore of cutting the roast
into little cubes for pressure cooking. Once cooked in about three-thousand batches, son-in-law Jason was given the task of grinding all of that meat. If you check out the photo on the right here, you can see that freshly ground cooked meat shares some characteristics with rabbit poop.
After the grinding, the meat is mixed with beef broth, milk, eggs, plus a host
of secret, ancient Dutch spices (okay, I made that last part up), and then mixed together over heat to form a thick, malleable goop. Daughter Kristen was the lucky chosen one for this fun job…although it was she who mumbled under her breath halfway through the proceedings: “I am never making kroketten at home!”
The batches, when done and set aside to cool, look very much like….well, you tell me. Take a peek at the photo here at the left. Yes, I know. Looks like diarrhea, say the guys. Looks like baby poop, say the gals. Same consistency, too, say I.
Once the batches have sufficiently cooled, BosKrokettenWerks kicked into full production mode with the making of the beef cylinders – all hand-formed mind you, no fancy-schmancy dies or templates dare taint The Recipe with any modern world influence. Then, with an efficient assembly line process the beef cylinders are dipped in egg, dipped in bread crumbs, and then dipped in egg and crumbs a second time.
At the time of this writing, it is not known how many kroketten BosKrokettenWerks will make. Leon’s has just delivered another truckload of freezers and given the size of the original roast, there would be enough to feed all of Newfoundland if we so chose, even if most ex-pats have returned home in recent days from Fort McMurray.
Yum. Kroketten from BosKrokettenWerks are the very best! If you wish to have the recipe, just drop the Bos Lady a line. Ahem, if you dare…
Oh-oh, she’s yelling again and she’s coming closer! LET’S RUN FOR OUR LIVES, JACKSON! RUN, JACKSON, RUN!!!