Legendary Dishes | Kotletki (patties / rissoles)

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No cookbook about traditional European food would be complete without the basic recipe for kotletki, if only as a reminder that meat was once scarce and ingenious ways were always being invented to transform beef or veal, chicken or turkey, lamb or pork into a tasty dish.

Kotletki are variously called patties or rissoles but they were never meat burgers and, despite the common denominators of soaked white bread, breadcrumbs and spices, they were never odd-shaped meatballs.

Kotletki were and are generally made with beef, but these days they are made with whatever ingredients are in the larder.

There are no rules about ingredients, just the method.

This is the basic kotletki, with beef, bread, cream, egg and seasonings.

  • 500 g beef, hacked small
  • 125 g bread without crusts, soaked in 125 ml cold milk
  • 100 g onions, chopped small
  • 75 g breadcrumbs/flour, for coating (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g butter, for frying
  • 40 ml sour cream
  • Salt, pinch
  • White pepper, pinch
  • Potato starch (optional)

Soak bread in the cold milk, squeeze out most of the liquid.

Sauté onions in a third of the butter over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Traditionally the meat was hacked rather than ground. Then it was pushed through the grinder twice after being mixed with the soaked bread and sautéed onions.

This can be replicated in a food processor. Or the hacked meat can be mixed by hand with the bread and onions for a coarser kotletki.

Then combine the meat mixture with the cream, egg and seasonings. If the mixture is too loose, add a few teaspoons of potato starch.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Form into thick ovals, about 7-8 cm in diameter.

Dredge in breadcrumbs or flour, though this is not necessary.

Fry in remaining butter, seven minutes each side.

Alternatively brown them in the butter, then bake in a 180°C oven for 15 minutes.


Kotletki with Beef, Garlic and Mustard

This version includes garlic and mustard, and the eggs are separated to produce a lighter kotletki.

  • 500 g beef, ground 125 g bread without crusts, soaked in 75 ml cold water
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 100 g onions, chopped small
  • 50 ml oil, for frying
  • 30 ml water, cold
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped small
  • 15 g butter, for frying
  • 15 g mustard
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt, pinch

Soak bread in the cold water, squeeze and retain two tablespoons of liquid.

Sauté onions in the butter over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Combine the meat with the breadcrumbs, egg yolks, garlic, mustard, onions, water and seasonings.

Whip egg whites, fold into mixture.

With wet hands for into thick ovals, about 7-8 cm in diameter.

Fry in oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat for 15 minutes, turning once.


Kotletki with Chicken or Turkey

  • 500 g chicken / turkey breast meat, minced
  • 150 g bread without crusts, soaked in 100 ml cold milk
  • 75 g flour, for coating
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml oil, for frying
  • 30 ml sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch

Combine the chicken meat with the breadcrumbs, cream, egg and seasonings.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Shape into thin ovals, dredge in flour.

Fry in oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, five minutes each side, until golden brown and crisp.


Kotletki with Mixed Meat

Mixed meat kotletki are increasingly popular.

  • 125 g beef, ground
  • 125 g chicken, minced
  • 125 g pork, ground
  • 100 g bread without crusts, soaked in 65 ml cold milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 100 g onions, chopped small
  • 50 ml oil, for frying
  • 30 g flour, for coating
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Blend bread, egg yolks, garlic and onion with a splash of the soaking milk in a food processor.

Mix in the meat and seasonings.

Whip egg whites, fold into mixture.

Shape into thick ovals, dredge in flour.

Fry in oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, seven minutes each side, until golden brown and crisp.


Kotletki with Chicken and Vegetables

Vegetables have always found a way into kotletki, pumpkin more than most.

  • 400 g chicken breast meat, minced
  • 150 g pumpkin, grated
  • 125 g onions, chopped small
  • 100 g bread without crusts, soaked in 65 ml cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g flour, for coating
  • 30 ml oil, for frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 g parsley, chopped small 
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
  • alt, pinch

Combined the chicken meat with bread, garlic, onion and parsley.

Blend in food processor, using a splash of the soaking water.

Mix in egg, pumpkin and seasonings.

Shape into thin ovals, dredge in flour.

Fry in oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, five minutes each side, until golden brown and crisp.

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