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Boulets liégeois

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O – M – G these Boulets liégeois are amazing! This month’s Food of the World is taking us to Belgium, and I was really excited to create an authentic dish. I asked my daughter, who just spent a year in Belgium, what the most popular, well-known dish served all over Belgium is? She didn’t even hesitate when she answered.

meatballs on a white platter sitting on a fall colored napkin.

You have to make Boulets liégeois!! They are meatballs swimming in an apple and onion gravy, served with French fries. French fries? I’m in! 😉

meatballs and french fries on a small white plate sitting on a multi-colored napkin.

So I hit the internet and started looking for recipes for this wonderful dish…and that is where the problems started. All of the recipes are written in French, so I hit the translate button and…let’s just say not everything can be translated. “Singer with flour and mix”. What? “Ready the device for meatballs by mixing the chopped eggs and parsley”. What chopped eggs?

Then there is the main ingredient, Sirop de Liège. Uh huh, sure. I live in Iowa, where on earth am I going to get my hands on that? More Google searches ensued.

meatballs on a white platter sitting on a striped napkin with a serving spoon on the side.

According to Wikipedia – “Sirop de Liège (French for syrup from Liège, sometimes translated into Dutch as luikse siroop) is a Belgian jam or jelly-like spread made of evaporated fruit juices. Apple and pear juices are used, and date or other fruit juices can be used as well. It could be considered a form of apple butter, or a syrup, albeit a soft, solid syrup. Yes!! I know what apple butter is and it is readily available.

Now I just need to figure out how much 500 grams of beef equals in American. Why do they not teach us metric?? I decided to go with 1 pound, nice and easy!!

How to make Boulets liégeois:

Start by placing your de-crusted bread in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs.

Four slices of white bread in a food processor.

Mix the ground beef and pork together in a large bowl.

Ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl.

We want it to be nice and evenly mixed together.

the two meats mixed together in a large bowl.

Now add the breadcrumbs, onions, parsley, and “raw” eggs.

Ground meats, parsley, bread crumbs, and eggs in a large bowl.

and thoroughly mix together.

Meatball mixture mixed together.

Form the mixture into 120 gram balls…I still don’t speak European, so I decided to use a 0.5-cup measuring cup.

Eleven large meatballs on a large plate.

This gave me 11 rather huge meatballs. If you actually need 6 servings {2 each}, then you might want to try .33 cup. Dredge the meatballs in flour.

Meatballs dredged in flour on a plate.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes each side.

Meatballs browned in melted butter in a large skillet.

You might want to very carefully move them around a bit. The ones in the center cooked more than the ones on the outside. Once the meatballs are cooked, move to a plate.

Cooked meatballs on a plate.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over low heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Butter and diced onions in a large skillet.

Stir in the brown sugar and thyme.

Brown sugar and thyme added to the caramelized onions in a large skillet.

Add the flour and stir to combine. This creates a roux that will thicken the sauce.

Flour added to the skillet to create a roux.

Stir in the vinegar and apple butter {Sirop de Liège, lol}. Do you see how thin that apple butter is? You don’t want the thick paste kind. ;).

Vinegar and apple butter added to the large skillet.

Pour in the beef broth and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Beef broth and two bay leaves added to the sauce mixture.

Place the meatballs back in the skillet and cook for 15 minutes to heat through.

Meatballs added to the skillet to warm through.

The sauce is not really green, it’s just my lights. 😉 Serve immediately with Pomme Frites {French fries} and Belgian beer or table wine.

Liege meatballs on a white serving platter.

No need for ketchup, this sauce is perfect for dipping your fries into.

A hand holding a french fry dipped in gravy over a white platter of meatballs.

Yes, I did make Homemade French Fries and they are amazing as well! 🙂

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Enjoy!!

Liege Meatballs on a serving platter.

Boulets liégeois

Boulets liégeois is a very popular dish served all over Belgium. They are meatballs swimming in an apple and onion gravy, served with fries.
4.80 from 5 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Belgian
Keyword: beef, pork, sauce, gravy, apple, recipe, Liege, meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 666kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 slices white bread crusts removed (turned into breadcrumbs)
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley finely choppped
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • flour for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups diced onions about 3 onions
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • .67 cups sirop de Liège – organic apple butter 2/3rds cup
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Mix beef and pork together in a large bowl to thoroughly combine.
  • Add the breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, and onions. Mix thoroughly.
  • Roll into meatballs, about 0.5 cup each, and dredge in flour.
  • Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.
  • Remove meatballs to a plate. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet.
  • Add the chopped onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until onions are caramelized.
  • Add the brown sugar and thyme, stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the flour, stir to combine.
  • Add the syrup Liège {apple butter} and vinegar, stir.
  • Pour in the beef stock, and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs back to the sauce and cook for 15 minutes to heat through.
  • Serve immediately with pomme frites {French fries} and Belgian beer or wine.

Nutrition

Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 198mg | Sodium: 455mg | Potassium: 913mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1135IU | Vitamin C: 20.6mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 4.6mg

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12 Comments

  1. I’m an American living in Maastricht, Netherlands. Liege, Belgium is 20 miles from me, I tried these last week at their Christmas market. They serve them with fries, mayonnaise, and apple sauce, your recipe is just as good! I used Appelstroop, which is the Netherlands version of Sirop de Liege.
    Thank you.

  2. Seems delicious 🙂
    In my recipe (I’m from Liège) I don’t put parsley. And I use beef and pork minced but also veal. It makes the boulets even more tender.
    In the sauce, I also put some brown beer. or Blond bier (like Jupiler for example) but then I up the amount of brown sugar. I also put 2 bay leaves.
    And the secret ingredient : when you have covered your boulets with the sauce (bier, sirop de liège, etc etc.) you spread french mustard on a thick slice of bread and you drop it, mustardy face up on top of the boulets and sauce and just let it melt. I like to pass the sauce through a sieve once all is done, as I don’t like bits…
    Enjoy

  3. A friend just came back from Liege to the US and had two containers of Sirop de Liege confiscated at customs. We had previously experimented and come up with a very authentic reduction of pear and apple juice with candied dates and a few spices. The only downside is that it takes about four hours to reduce the juice to syrup consistency. Vive Wallonie!

  4. Hi ! I’m also from Liège and was looking’ for the translation to do it with my host mom here in the US! Thank you for the recipe 🙂 I also add brown beer in it and some dried grapes ? passed on from my grand-ma !

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe!!! We have a Belgium exchange student that’s been living with us now for a year and his mom sent me that exact sauce! He said his mom always puts it in her meatballs and I’ve searched endlessly for a recipe to try to recreate it for him!! Can’t wait to try it tomorrow for dinner!

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