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The historic and cultured East Prussian capital, Königsberg, is gone. Founded in the 13th century by Teutonic knights as a Germanic outpost on the Baltic Sea, Königsberg (“king’s mountain”) grew rich in the Middle Ages as a Hanseatic League port and was the ancestral home and continued coronation place of the Prussian kings. The city boasted a major university, famous for philosophy, and an opera house where the young Richard Wagner conducted and composed for a while. 

Severely bombed by the Allies in World War II, Königsberg was overrun by the Soviet Army. The German population was forcibly expelled, and the historic buildings destroyed. Annexed by Russia, it was renamed Kaliningrad. It’s now a dreary backwater noted mostly for a naval base and drug problems. 

But one specialty of the imperial Prussian city lingers. “Königsberger Klopse” [KERH-nigs-ber-ger KLOP-zeh], the city’s celebrated namesake meatballs, still survive in North German cuisine. In the Baltic region, meatballs are taken seriously, from Köttbullar (Swedish meatballs), served even at Christmas, to the wonderful but under-appreciated Russian Tefteli. 

As a high school kid in the 1950s (please don’t do the math), I became enchanted with these huge, tender, meat “dumplings” (the literal meaning of “klopse”) that are enriched with spices and anchovies. They were authentically “foreign,” which in my small-town youth was rare and special. My introduction to them was fortuitous. 

My mother and I had been invited to dinner at the home of her boss, a university professor from Austria. His wife Edy, a substantial German woman, had in the previous decade been a soldier in the World War II German army, serving as a truck driver and mechanic. They knew I liked cooking and asked if I had a food request. I asked for something very German, something from Edy’s childhood. She served Königsberger Klopse. 

Edy’s klopse showed an exotic trace, as cuisines in port cities often do. Curry overtones highlighted the otherwise very German caper sauce.   

My recipe, which took considerable trial and error to develop, serves six plentifully, in the German manner. Accompany the meatballs and their sauce with buttered boiled potatoes or noodles. (Did I mention this was German?) Consistent with the dish’s origins, a pilsner or lager beer would be the drink. However, a dry or nearly dry German Riesling or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner would also pair elegantly with the subtly complex flavors. 

Tim Dondero, co-owner and Executive Chef of Donderos’ Kitchen is a culinary enthusiast who has taught international cooking in Atlanta and Athens for years. His redesigned blog is at

Prussian Meatballs — Königsberger Klopse  


  • 6 tablespoons finely minced onion 
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil 
  • 6 tablespoons quick-cooking oatmeal 
  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, including their oil 
  • 6 tablespoons unseasoned breadcrumbs 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg  
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 3/8 teaspoon allspice 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck or 1 pound each ground chuck and ground pork 


  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth or water 
  • 3 (1/4 inch) slices of onion 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder 
  • 2 teaspoons flour mixed with 1 teaspoon sunflower or canola oil 
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained  
  • Minced parsley for garnish

Gently fry onion in oil until softened. Transfer to mixing bowl.  
With chef’s knife on a cutting board, coarsely chop oatmeal. Add to the bowl. Pour oil from anchovies into the bowl. Mince anchovies finely and add to the bowl. Add crumbs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, nutmeg, pepper, allspice, eggs, and water. Beat everything together lightly. Add meat and mix thoroughly, kneading with your hands. 
Shape into 6 large evenly sized meatballs, packing them firmly. Wet your hands with water for the final shaping. Set meatballs on waxed paper.  
In a wide pot, simmer chicken broth or water, onion slices, bay leaves, and salt. Gently place meatballs in the water. Cover pan and steam meatballs 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Carefully turn them with a large spoon. Steam them 10 more minutes. Turn once more and steam a final 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them rest, covered, another 5 minutes. 
With slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to shallow serving bowl. Cover loosely with waxed paper or a lid and keep them warm. 
Remove bay leaf and onion from broth. Add curry powder. Boil broth down to about 2 cups. Reduce heat. Whisk in flour-oil mixture. Simmer 2 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat. Stir in capers. Taste sauce and add salt if needed. 
Spoon sauce (do not pour from pan) over meat balls. Dust with minced parsley. Serve with boiled, buttered potatoes or buttered and dilled egg noodles. 

Boom Magazine is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe found on our website.  


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