russian meat patties – kotlety

Sassy Radish’s mid-week post

I am posting out of sequence this week because I have another weekend full of festivities to attend. So I asked Kate if I could contribute early, and she agreed!

I believe, I’ve written about how our palates change through the years and how we grow to like foods we previously hated and grow weary of old favorites. I suppose the recipe here is one of those transformations through the years. In Russia, you often make meat patties out of ground beef, pork, chicken (chicken remains my favorite) called “kotlety”. Ours are an old family recipe and many other recipes will use milk in theirs – but I think because our family kept kosher, the recipe here omits dairy of any kind.

There’s really nothing complicated to kotlety and they’re super easy to make. As a child, I loathed them, and would only eat a fresh one right off the skillet. Now, I think they’re one of the tastiest, most comforting dishes I make. KS, my boyfriend, agrees and regularly requests them at our weeknight’s dinner.

bear with me... yeah, you got to mix it with your hand!

Ground chicken should be easy enough to locate in your supermarket. Still, you’d do one better if you ask you local butcher to grind fresh chicken for you. We prefer dark meat, but for health reasons you might prefer the white. I know that sometimes there’s no local butcher, in which case, the grocery store should carry it. Ours does and it’s not even all that fancy. The best part of this recipe is that is features things that you might already have in your pantry.

1 lb ground chicken (beef, pork, turkey will also do if you prefer them to the chicken)
1 small-medium onion, very very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs (or a piece of white bread, or Challah, soaked in a bit of water)
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp salt (you might need more, play around with the recipe)
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Olive oil or vegetable oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients above (except the olive oil) together in a bowl. Grab another bowl and pour cold water in it. You will need the cold water to rinse your hands in between shaping each patty, so that the meat doesn’t much stick to your hands.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.

Dip your hands in a bowl of water. Take enough meat to form a patty that is about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide (about 1 inch thick) and place the formed, shaped patty on the pan where the oil should sizzle upon making contact with the patty. Repeat the shaping and placing of the patties until your pan is full, rinsing your hands between each patty. You want to sear each side for a few minutes until they’re a happy brown color and then lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes or until, when you cut into one of the patties, you see absolutely no pink. Remove the meat patties from the pan and repeat the exercise if you have leftover ground meat mix.

Nota bene: don’t cover the pan when you’re cooking the patties – you might think it’ll cook the meat patties faster, however, it’ll just make them a bit too mushy – as the moisture will collect at the bottom of the pan. So cook the patties without a lid.

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