This Russian kotleti recipe makes delicious deep-fried Russian style chicken meat patties, or chicken cutlets or chicken meatballs if you prefer, which my baboushka served with mashed potatoes and a garden salad or as one dish of an array of plates if being eaten as part of a shared family feast as so many of our meals were.
My Russian kotleti recipe makes the very moreish fried Russian chicken meat patties or Russian chicken cutlets, which is the direction translation, that my baboushka would often cook as one of the many traditional Russian dishes that she would lay out for shared family meals – whether it was a Russian Christmas or Easter feast or one of the countless long Sunday lunches that turned into dinners.
As with all the traditional Russian recipes I’ve been posting to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Year period, that have so far included Russian pelmeni, stuffed cabbage rolls, beet potato salad and a classic garden salad, these are family recipes, the recipes of my memories, and recipes I’ve been cooking and have adapted over the years.
My Russian grandparents were born in villages in the land we now know as Ukraine when it was still the Russian Empire and they were raised there during the Soviet Union. My grandmother called Odessa home and for my grandfather Kiev was his city, and I guess that’s because that’s where he came of age.
Like millions of others who survived the wars, they were forced to leave when the Nazis invaded, spent a lot of time in displaced person’s camps, and made their way to Australia after World War 2 – long before Ukraine gained independence in 1991 when some 45% of the population of Ukraine identified as Russian.
As Russians from the land we now know as Ukraine, my family cooked and ate what they considered to be Russian food, partly because Ukraine as a nation didn’t exist then, and simply because it was the food of their culture.
This is to explain why I’ve called this Russian kotleti recipe and other Russian recipes in this series of my family recipes ‘Russian’ and not ‘Ukrainian’. That is not to deny that some of these dishes, variations on these dishes, and similar dishes have long been cooked and eaten in Ukraine.
Ukrainians and Russians are like cousins, having formed their early identities long before there were borders and nation-states, along with Belorussians, in the medieval Kievan Rus Empire, whose two capitals were located in the lands we now know as Ukraine and Russia.
Russians and Ukraines share many ingredients, dishes, snacks, and culinary customs with other ethnic groups, language groups, cultures, and countries that were once part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union or share the same religion, along with other Eastern European countries, which explains why dishes such as kotleti are found in both Russia and Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.
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Russian Kotleti Recipe for Delicious Deep Fried Russian Chicken Meat Patties
This Russian kotleti recipe will make you delicious Russian-style minced chicken patties that are similar to those my baboushka made that I grew up eating in my grandparents’ red brick home in Blacktown in the western suburbs of Sydney in the 1970s.
Baba would buy cuts of meat from her favourite butcher in Blacktown on her daily morning shop and Papa would mince the meat she’d bought in his old hand-grinder in the garage that was fixed to a rustic handmade wooden work bench that he’d made himself.
Papa had also built my grandparents’ and parents houses. The shiny steel mincer sat amongst grease-covered tools, beneath a ceiling of cobwebs. From a young age, it intrigued me how papa kept the thing so clean amongst all that grime.
If there was a big gang of us arriving for a Russian Christmas or Easter feast or one of the countless long Sunday lunches that turned into dinners – baba and papa, mum and dad, my two uncles and their girlfriends and later wives, maybe a priest or my grandparents’ friends or neighbours; years later, my husband Terence, and occasionally a friend I’d invite to join us – then the kotleti would be served in a casserole dish at the centre of the dining table.
Everyone would help themselves to the kotleti, along with Russian pelmeni and vareniki, salads and cabbage rolls. We’d take a bit of everything soon after sitting down and then during the course of an afternoon that would often extend into the evening, we’d replenish our plates with a bit of this and that, in between vodka shots and beer, conversations, tales and reminiscences.
If it was a small group of immediate family members, perhaps only papa, baba and myself if I’d trekked out to Blacktown on the train from inner-city Sydney for a night or two as I did during my first two years at university, then baba might serve us individually, plating the kotleti with creamy mashed potatoes and her Russian garden salad. She would always send me home with any leftover kotleti, along with a dozen piroshki or so wrapped up in tea towels to keep them warm for the train ride home.
I’ll share the piroshki recipe in the next post. I’m also going to share more about Russian cuisine and Russian culinary history and the connections with the cuisines of Ukraine and other countries that share a passion for home-cooked food and connecting over shared meals with family and friends. Because we’re all about the things that bring us together, not drive us apart. But first, my Russian kotleti recipe.
Russian Kotleti Recipe for Fried Russian Chicken Minced Patties
- Neutral cooking oil
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 small carrot finely grated
- 3 slices of white bread or a small baguette
- ¼ cup milk
- 250 g minced chicken
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- Sauté finely chopped onions in a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil until soft and nearly translucent, then add finely chopped garlic and finely grated carrot and continue to sauté, adding a tad more oil if necessary, until carrots are soft then transfer to a mixing bowl to cool down a little.
- Soak three slices of white bread or slices of a small baguette in the milk so that the bread is completely submerged and absorbs the milk. When it’s very soft, squelchy and almost mushy, squeeze out the milk then transfer it to the mixing bowl.
- Add the chicken mince, sea salt, black pepper and finely chopped dill to the mixing bowl and combine well.
- Scoop up around 70 grams of the chicken mince mixture with a tablespoon – it should be a big heaped tablespoon – then wet your hands and, using your hands, form the minced chicken mixture into an oval shaped meat patty that looks like a squashed meatball.
- Return the oval shaped chicken meat patty to the spoon and set it down on a tray then repeat the last step. The mixture you have should make around eight chicken patties, so you’ll need eight or so tablespoons at the ready and a tray that holds all eight or so spoons. Wash and dry your hands when you’re done.
- Heat 3cm cooking oil in a small, deep frying pan until it reaches 178˚C, then gently drop your first chicken meatball into the hot oil, scooping some oil onto the top of the patty so it’s covered with oil. After a few minutes, using tongs, gently turn the patty over to check the colour. If it’s not quite done you can roll it over again in another couple of minutes. Remove the chicken patty when it’s a lovely golden-brown colour. And repeat until you’ve finished the mixture.
- Plate immediately with mashed potatoes and a garden salad and dishes of sour cream and fresh dill on the side.
Do let us know if you make our Russian kotleti recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you. You can leave a comment below, email us or connect with us on social media. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to our social media accounts where we share these posts.