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Boulet Beauties – The Meatballs That Highlight Liège’s Food Scene

Belgium’s splendid city of Liège may not be as populous as its capital, Brussels; however, it holds the surprise secret to local cuisine that not many fans of food will have heard of. This local cuisine of Liège has a long history, which comes in the literal form of a ball of meat. The dish itself is known as ‘Boulet à la Liégeoise.’

The meatballs are the main component of this dish, with minced pork and beef, of course, being the prime ingredients. To accompany this, a sweet-sour Liégeoise sauce is made separately, which includes ingredients such as an apple-flavour puree or spread. This sauce delightfully coats the meatballs, giving them an exquisite flavour. A portion of fries then accompanies the dish with a small pot of mayonnaise, but these fries can also be used to mop up the Liégeoise sauce.

The history of Liège's local cuisine dates back to ancient times. This was where only the wealthiest civilians could purchase ingredients to create and consume this dish. The 13th century was when the meatball was first founded in Medieval Europe. Around this time, meatballs were classed as a dish of excellent refinement, making them chic.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the knowledge of meatballs had made its way across Europe, including to cities such as Liège. It was then in the 16th century that the term ‘Boulet’ was first used by a master chef for three Liege Prince-Bishops, Lancelot de Casteau. The term then became properly established in the 18th century, with the Sirop de Liege being created in the 19th century. This became one of the key ingredients in a Liégeoise sauce.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, when folklore lovers became interested in the rise in popularity of this meatball dish — so much so that Boulet à la Liégeoise became the official local cuisine of Liege itself. The history doesn’t end there, as in 1996, an annual award was established and given to the restaurant that produced the Boulet à la Liégeoise recipe closest to the local tradition.

I had the privilege of visiting last year’s winner of the Boulet De Cristal, the name of this award. The Brasserie L'entre-d2ux, having served its community for over nine years, created a Boulet à la Liégeoise recipe, which went on to win this award. I decided to visit this restaurant to try their version of this local cuisine myself and understand why they were so successful in winning.

I ordered their Boulet à la Liégeoise, which arrived at my table looking like it would be served bistro-style. The plate featured the meatballs, the stars of the show. They were covered in the traditional Liégeoise sauce and served with a portion of fries and a small side salad.

The Boulets a La Liégeoise at the L’Entre D2ux Brasserie

The Boulets a La Liégeoise at the L’Entre D2ux Brasserie

Upon tasting these Boulet meatballs and the Liégeoise sauce, I immediately got the apple flavour thanks to the puree in the sauce. The Boulets were packed with pork and beef meat, which was made possible thanks to the eggs used to bind the mixture together before cooking. Onions were visible in the Boulets and the sauce, and a slight hint of their flavour came through.

The fries that came with the Boulet a La Liégeoise were fluffy on the inside and satisfyingly crisp on the outside. Thanks to the remaining sauce on my plate, they tasted even better. Overall, the dish was rather filling but very pleasurable to consume. It’s safe to say that I left the side salad where it was, given that I was in no mood for it then.

Having gone through this experience at Brasserie L’entre-d2ux, it was apparent why their Boulet a La Liégeoise recipe was 2023’s Boulet De Cristal winner. Flavoursome Boulet, a smooth Liégeoise sauce and fries both fluffy and crispy. They very much understood the very fundamentals of creating this excellent local cuisine.

Liege has a fantastic array of food and drink; however, if visiting this Belgian city, it is worth popping into a brasserie to try the Boulet a La Liégeoise.


Foodie Facts and Figures

  • Sirop De Liège is an ingredient in this dish that isn’t widely available. If you wish to use the original ingredient, you can find this product on websites such as Amazon.

  • The L’Entre D2ux brasserie is well hidden on the side of a supermarket. A Shell petrol station is right outside it, which can be used as a point of reference.

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