These German Meatballs are German comfort food at it’s best! Using a few basic ingredients allows the capers to shine through!
We were dinner guests of some German friends and the haunting aromas coming from the kitchen had me intrigued from the get go! I was not disappointed when this lovely creamy dish arrived at the table.
This recipe is a traditional recipe hailing from ‘Konigsberg’ which is the former German City now known as Kaliningrad. This happens to be where my father-n-law’s family was from. Despite that, my husband and I have never seen this dish served by my husband’s mother or grandmother.
My father-in-law was notorious for his plain eating habits – no garlic or spices to speak of were tolerated in his food! My mother-in-law managed to serve absolutely delicious meals with salt, pepper and a bay leaf being mainstays of her flavourings!
My husband and I are guessing the cream sauce and capers would have moved this dish out of the realm of my father-in-law’s palate.
The dish is typically served with beets and boiled potatoes. Rice is a nice accompaniment to soak up the creamy sauce. And, in an transgression of regional culinary rules I think I will try it next with Spaetzle which would be a perfect foil for the sauce!
All of this talk of Konigsberg has sent me off on a family research errand… bear with me below if you are a history enthusiast. If not…..[ultimate-recipe-jump text=”Take Me to the Recipe!”]
Konigsberg has a fascinating history. It was the capital of Prussia 1525 to 1701.
Prussia has a fascinating history itself. Old Prussians or Baltic Prussians were indigenous tribes that inhabited the south east shore region of the Baltic Sea. In the 13th century the Teutonic Knights, a Catholic medieval military of German Crusaders conquered the area inhabited by the tribes. German immigrants Germanised the northern region and Polish immigrants settled in the south. The Prussians variously aligned with Poland and Sweden in efforts to rebel against the Teutonic Knights. The much prized Baltic Seaport region was variously a fief of Poland and of Sweden until 1660 when the Treaty of Oliva confirmed Prussia’s independence from both Poland and Sweden.
The Kingdom of Prussia was recognized in 1701, by which time the Teutonic Knights had been secularized and Prussia was ruled by Frederick I of the Hohenzollerns line. The Kingdom was prosperous and had become a Lutheran dominated center against Calvinism.
Five Imperial Russian general-governors administered the city during the Seven Years War from 1758–62. At the end of the war the Russians abandoned Konigsberg and it became the capital of East Prussia. By 1800 Konigsberg had 60,000 inhabitants and was considered one of the most populous of German cities.
In 1871 the region of Konigsberg became officially part of the German Empire during the Prussian-led Unification of Germany. That lasted until the end of World War I with the creation of the Free State of Prussia, which was an official state of Germany from 1918 to 1947.
Prior to 1945 Königsberg was the cultural and economic centre in the German province of East Prussia, a region that was then cut off from the main part of Germany by a narrow strip of Polish territory and the city state of Danzig (now the Polish port of Gdansk). It was the dispute over this narrow piece of Polish land that gave Hitler the excuse to invade Poland in 1939, sparking off WWII.
During World War II the Nazi regime persecuted the Jewish, Polish and Soviet population of Konigsberg. Konigsberg was heavily bombed by the British and eventually fell to the Soviet Red Army one month before the end of the war.
About 120,000 survivors remained in the ruins of the devastated city. These survivors, mainly women, children and the elderly, plus a few others who had returned immediately after the fighting ended, were held as slave labourers until 1949. The vast majority of the German civilians left in Königsberg after 1945 died from disease or deliberate starvation, or in revenge-driven ethnic cleansing. The remaining 20,000 German residents were expelled in 1949–50.
In 1945 during the Potsdam Conference Northern Prussia was annexed to The Soviet Union. Konigsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Northern Prussia and Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave of the Russian Federation with the southern part now being Poland’s Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.
The oblast is bordered by Poland to the south and Lithuania to the east and north, so residents may only travel visa-free to the rest of Russia via sea or air.
Following the post-war migration and expulsion of the German-speaking population, the territory was populated with citizens from the Soviet Union. Today virtually no ethnic Germans remain; most of the several thousand who live there are recent immigrants from other parts of the former Soviet Union.
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 2 eggs
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (finely shredded bread or kaiser rolls) Substitute potato flakes for gluten free
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp black pepper corns
- 4 Tbsps cornstarch
- 3 Tbsps cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsps capers
- 1 cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all meat ball ingredients together in a large bowl until ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Form into golf ball size meat balls. You should get about 24 meat balls.
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large surface pan. Add the bay leaf and the pepper corns.
- Add the meatballs and reduce heat so the that meatballs simmer gently about 15 minutes. Remove meatballs and keep warm.
- Discard the bay leaf.
- Mix cornstarch with a bit of cold water to form a runny paste. Stir into the stock and simmer until it thickens.
- Add cider vinegar and lemon juice. Add meatballs and rewarm them.
- Remove from heat and add the sour cream and capers. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes or rice or spaetzle.