As the only Dutch employee in an office full of Aussies, I get teased all the time with my funny accent and odd expressions, so I feel it’s my duty to remind everyone that Australia was once called New Holland and that if the Dutch had been clever enough to plant their flag on the spot where the British founded Perth a few centuries later, we could all be speaking Dutch today! My mother is convinced that the only reason Australia isn’t part of the Netherlands today, is because the Dutch didn’t have enough convicts to ship here.

Jokes aside, I’m not very nationalistic and I’m certainly not homesick, but there are some things I do miss about the Netherlands. One of those is Gouda cheese and the other is… slavinken! The word slavinken means ‘lettuce finches,’ because the bacon-wrapped meat patties are best eaten with lettuce and baked potatoes. It can also be translated as ‘beat finches,’ but not to worry: no little birds are harmed in the process.

It’s my last week in the Tourism Media office, because my partner Colin and I are setting out on a road trip for an indefinite time. So, I decided to make my last team lunch memorable by treating everyone to slavinken. I had actually made it a few times before and people kept asking me if I could make those ‘bacon thingemies’ or ‘whatchamacallit’ again. Who am I to refuse such eloquent requests?

While I was dripping butter over the sizzling ‘finches’ in the kitchen, Rohan came running to see if it was really true that ‘slavoetsjelskastrofen’ were on the menu again and Dillon was so impressed with the smells that he considered becoming a meat eater again. I made that up, by the way. Dillon has been very good with sticking to his guns as one of two vegetarians in an office full of Paleo-lifestyle enthusiasts. Respect!

Matty was so excited when he saw the slavinken that he told me that he loved me, but I suspect that he meant to say ‘love meat’, because he devoured 3 slavinken in 10 minutes (and didn’t even sit next to me during lunch)!

We paired the slavinken with a Malbec, because I had just finalised the Mendoza video script, and Darlene had baked me a delicious cake for desert, because I’m so awesome. (Oh, she just corrected me: It was because it’s my birthday too this week. Ah well).

For about 20 rolls, you’ll need:

  • 1 kilo ground lean beef/veal
  • 1 kilo ground pork
  • 1/2 kilo very thinly sliced streaky bacon (a quality butcher’s shop will do this for you)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (or almond/hazelnut meal for a gluten-free version)
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Mix everything, except the bacon, quickly and evenly and form elongated rolls that fit in the palm of your hand. Wrap each one in bacon by draping the slices in a grid shape first (pin down with tooth picks if it doesn’t stick).

Pan-fry with lots of butter (keep dripping it over the meat and turn regularly) for 20-25 min, or else 15-20 min on the BBQ for a smoked version. If the meat appears a little pink on the outside when you cut it, that’s from the bacon and not because it’s undercooked.

Mix in any ingredients you like. I’ve given this batch a hint of Italian flavour by adding parmesan cheese, oregano, thyme, basil, tomato sauce and chili flakes. Consider adding a San Choy Bau spice mix for an oriental twist.

Eet smakelijk!

(that’s Dutch for bon appétit)
(which is French for ‘I hope this goes down well’)