Ask any Russian about their comfort foods, and kotleti will probably make the list. Every family has their own recipe – some use chicken, some beef, some pork, some a combination of these. What goes in also varies. The shape and size varies as well. And, naturally, everyone thinks that their family has the best recipe.
My recipe is a combination of my tastes and what I’ve grown up with. The first few times I made these, I called my mother to confirm that I was getting the right consistency, because, somehow, in all the years I’ve watched her cook, I never watched her make kotleti.
The most important part of making kotleti is to get good meat. If you have a butcher you trust, have him grind the meat for you. If you don’t, and many of us rely on supermarkets to do our shopping, buy chicken breast, or pork loin, or whatever it is you are going to use and grind it yourself. Never buy the pre-ground supermarket meat…aside from not knowing what is in it, ground meat will lose moisture and your kotleti will be drier. Also, with all the food scares and recalls as of late, grinding your own meat is safer.
for about 15-20 patties (depending on the size you make):
1 jumbo onion, or two large, minced in a food processor or in the grinder with the meat
4 lbs chicken, ground
parsley, finely chopped
3 -4 cloves of garlic, finely minced in a food processor or in the grinder with the meat
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs or 3 slices of stale bread, soaked in water
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
Mix everything together in a large bowl. The mix will be a consistency of thick porridge.
Pour some breadcrumbs into a plate and roll each patty in the breadcrumbs. The patties may be difficult to handle because they appear runny, but just do your best to coat them in crumbs and don’t worry about shape. They will take shape once cooking on the hot pan.
Heat up some oil in the pan, and carefully place the patties into the pan. Allow the bottom to cook through and form a crust before flipping over. 3-4 minutes.
Flip over to the other side and cook a few more minutes until done.
Kotleti will work just as well if made with pork, or a mix of chicken and pork if you prefer. They go well with pan-fried potatoes, the recipe to which I will post at a later date!