Last weekend, Adam (my husband) and I spent a weekend in Maine at my parents in law’s vacation home. The house is in the middle of nowhere, with limited cell service and only dial-up internet, which makes for the perfect getaway spot if all you want is wind down from a hectic city life (I LOVE living in the city by the way, but sometimes I crave the kind of relaxation you can only get when you leave the computer and a mile-long to do list behind). Cold weather with nothing productive on the agenda, left for plenty of time to cook… and that’s just the way I like it!
My mother in law and I alternated cooking meals and over 4 days away went through dozens of recipes. So much fun! For our last lunch before leaving I wanted to make something Russian – something my mom would possibly make for the family in this kind of situation. Kotleti it was! [Btw, I recall this was one of the recipes requested by you – so here you go ]
Kotleti sound like “cutlets” but for some reason I think of cutlets as pieces of meat, breaded and fried (like chicken nuggets or something of the sort). These little meat cakes are made from a combination of ground pork and ground beef, with bread soaked in milk ensuring they stay nice and moist (it absorbs all the meat juices as the cakes cook). The rest is pretty standard flavoring – salt, pepper, onions (if using, I didn’t) and garlic – let the simplicity of the ingredients shine!
Ingredients (makes 8 kotleti)
[Adopted from Gotovim Doma]
- 1/2lb ground pork
- 1/2lb ground beef (I used 90% lean grass-fed)
- 2 slices of bread
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg, separated
- 1 large garlic clove, pressed
- 1 cup panko crumbs (alternatively you can just use flour – my mom often does that)
- salt, pepper, butter/EVOO for frying
1. Break up bread into pieces, cover with milk and let soften for 10 minutes.
2. Mix ground meat, bread, egg yolk, garlic and s&p
3. Whisk egg white, pour over to meat mixture
Gently mix in (I always find that hands do the best job ensuring everything is evenly distributed)
4. Form into cakes
5. Cover with panko crumbs (or flour)
These babies are ready for frying!
The recipe I linked to above did not yield the crispy on the outside/soft on the inside texture of my mom’s kotleti so I’m going to deviate from it. Here is what I think I should have done.
6. Heat 1T butter or oil over medium-low heat, add kotleti…
… a splash of water…
Then cover and cook for about 8 minutes, until cooked through
7. Increase heat to medium-high, add an additional tablespoon of butter, then crisp them up for about a minute on each side.
Ready for consumption!
Kotleti are a really traditional Russian dish and should be part of your Russian cuisine repertoir (if having a Russian cuisine repertoir was something you were into ). My mother-in-law said they kind of tasted like large meatballs. I guess that means that the flavor profile should be familiar to you and you shouldn’t be scared to make them!
Serve with some mashed potatoes and lots of veggies – mmm, this just screams comfort food to me. What do you think?