These delicious beef patties are very popular in Iran, sort of our equivalent of meatloaf or rissoles. It was one of my favourite comfort foods growing up and I still enjoy them just as much. Kotlet are comprised of a simple combination of ingredients – similar in some ways to a classic meatball mixture. Russians also have a similar version of kotlet and I’m unsure of where they actually originated. Interestingly both these versions are formed into flat tear shaped patties which to me cries Russian angst! There are versions of kotlet where soaked bread his added to the minced beef and there are versions where grated boiled potato is used, similar to meatballs where soaked bread is often added to produce a more tender and moist meatball. Growing up my mother used soaked bread which is a little less time intensive. In the recipe below I’ve used a little of each but I think my preference is for just soaked bread. The perfect side dish for kotlet is mashed potato and a green salad, and for me a dollop of ketchup is a must. I always make extra kotlet as they make wonderful sandwiches the next day and reheat well.
Ingredients – Serves 4 with leftovers for sandwiches the next day
800g lean minced beef
1 large white onion, finely grated and excess juice drained off
4 slices white bread, crust removed and diced
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried bread crumbs (about 1 cup) – I used Panko as that’s all I had but regular bread crumbs work better
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
Place the bread and milk in a bowl and mix it well to ensure that all the bread is coated. Let sit for 15 minutes then squish it all up very well in your hands so as you have a mushy looking mixture, if there is excess liquid, drain it off. To a large bowl add the egg, bread mixture, grated onion, parsley, 2 teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Combine this mixture very well. I like to put on disposable gloves and do this by hand. Once the mixture is combined add the meat and again work it all together. This is best done with your hands. Give it a good knead for at least a couple of minutes. At this point I like to cover the bowl and refrigerate it. You can do this overnight but just 20 minutes is enough. But if you are short of time you can just proceed straight to shaping them.
To form the kotlet take a large handful of the meat mixture, not too much – if I had to guess I would say it should weigh about 100 – 120g and flatten it out in your palms. You want the finished kotlet to be about 12-15cm in length and no more than 1.5cm thick. It helps to have a bowl of water handy to wet your hands so as the meat doesn’t stick. Then place the kotlet on a flat surface and shape it with your hands into a tear drop shape. Form all the kotlet and then bread them. For this you just need to put the bread crumbs into a large shallow bowl and one by one place each kotlet into the crumbs and press down gently so as the surface is covered with crumbs. Turn it over and do the same with the other side. Lay each crumbed kotlet onto a tray lined with baking paper. Again I like to pop these into the fridge for about 20 minutes before frying. You could if you wish make them to this point the day before.
To fry the kotlet place a large heavy potted non stick fry pan over medium heat. Once hot add a generous amount of oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan well. Wait until the oil is hot and add the kotlet to the hot oil. Make sure not to over crowd the pan and that your heat isn’t too intense. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown, if your heat is too high they will brown too quickly without coking through to the middle. Continue cooking until all the Kotlet are done. As the kotlet are cooked I like to put them on an oven tray and place them in a 120C oven, this not only keeps them all warm but also aids in finishing off the cooking process. Serve hot.