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Juicy minced meat cutlets that will make you crave more

by | 10 Mar 2024 | 0 comments

Minced meat cutlets recipe is a staple in every polish housewife's book. Learn how to make this delicious dinner traditionally served with potatoes.

Served with classic boiled potatoes or mash on the side, these cutlets are everything you need in a weeknight meal. They’re delicious, the patty mix is easy to make and roll, and made with ingredients you already have at home.

Ground meat cutlets or minced meat cutlets? And should you make pork or beef cutlets?

Let’s settle this in the beginning — these are the same, it’s just a language difference. If you are American, you will probably call these ground meat cutlets, while people that use British English will call them minced meat cutlets. The patty is made with finely ground meat and several ingredients that depend on your preferences. We will look at them in the next part. Now, let’s focus on what’s important — the type of meat used. Should you opt for beef or pork? Or maybe chicken?

Traditionally, ground (or minced) cutlets are made with pork. You want to pick meat that isn’t too lean, because they will lose a lot of juice in the frying process, which can result in a pretty dry dish. We used ground pork shoulder with around 12% fat, which means it had around 12 grams of fat per 100 grams of weight. Some people use pork loin, some prefer pork ham. I used both of them, but I think meat with around 10% of fat just tastes better in this recipe. But if you are trying to cut out as much fat from your diet as you can, go for it. I’m positive that you can even make these in an air fryer, depending on the size of your cutlets.

What about other kinds of meat? This ground meat cutlets recipe was made with pork shoulder, but it can be substituted with any kind of meat you want. When it comes to beef, remember that meat with around 10% of fat tastes the best, and swap lard for tallow when the patties hit the frying pan. In Polish cuisine, you won’t see much beef because pork was much more popular in the last 100 years, but it doesn’t mean that you need to use this kind of meat. Use what you want and what is available to you, as the prime rule of our tradition was to use what was at hand and make the best of it.

If you are more into poultry, chicken or turkey are also a good option, but it’s much harder to find them ground with the right amount of fat. If you have the option to ground meat yourself, use chicken thighs, as they dry out much slower and have a better fat to weight ratio. Chicken schmaltz will also be a good substitute for lard in this recipe. We usually have a lot of it left over from our chicken soup. If you don’t have it, feel free to use any frying oil you want.

Onions and other additional ingredients in cutlets recipe

I’m a big fan of learning from other cultures and incorporating new ideas into traditional recipes to make them taste even better. Sometimes it’s a new technique of prepping food or a spice that will take over my kitchen, like gochugaru did, when I first discovered it. I also use Chinese five- and thirteen-spice powders, Szechuan peppercorns or, as of late, I’m also very fond of yeast flakes. These are all great and have their own flavour (flavor for our fellow Americans) profiles that match my cooking. You probably have your favourites too.

Treat this minced meat cutlets recipe as a humble start. There are many recipes for similar cutlets from British, Indian or Italian cuisines, and they all have something that makes them special. My grandma, for instance, makes the most delicious food and often adds only salt and pepper. Don’t hesitate to add something more personal to the dish and make your own recipe. Just remember to leave a comment below to let me know if you find an interesting idea we can all try out!

In Poland, you will typically find cutlets made with garlic, onion, or leek. I’m not a fan, especially if they are added raw to the meat mix. In terms of spices and herbs, paprika is also popular, but I feel it dominated our cuisine for far too long, so I try to not use it when it’s not really needed. More rare variations include those made with cooked rice (patty used rather for gołąbki than cutlets) or groats. I myself made these a few times, and buckwheat groats (especially roasted) were one of my favourite additions. It’s awesome to try out new stuff, but I always go back to the original staple dish.

Seasoning might also change how you’d want to eat them. If you are using stuff like Cajun seasoning or some awesome Texan style BBQ mix, don’t hesitate and throw your cutlets into a bun to create a burger or serve them with a dip. I’m sure they will taste great. After all, it’s a great snack that we all ate without any sides at least once!

4 steps to great weeknight dinner

It’s all a matter of 4 steps: soaking, mixing, frying, eating. But why is the first step important?

Using stale bread in the cutlets was one of the ways to utilize what is about to be thrown out. And, as you know, Polish people treat food as something sacred. For old school Catholics, throwing away food, especially bread, is considered a sin. It is also connected with our past and years of national poverty. We know how to use everything we have, and we will.

It also levels up the dish in a few ways. It gives cutlets an interesting profile, depending on what type of bread you use. In the old days, people would use sourdough bread, probably homemade, made primarily from rye. It helps to hold the moisture in the patty so it doesn’t dry out and, because of added milk, it tenderizes the meat to give it a better texture.

I always have some stale bread at home and this recipe lets me use it instead of throwing out. I only use the one with no seeds or any other additives, because I don’t want any in my meat. I soak it in a mix of milk, water, and spices and when it falls apart, I press it lightly to squeeze all the excess liquid, turning the bread into a ball in the end. Then I add it into a medium-sized bowl together with meat, egg, and other ingredients and mix well, preparing the patty carefully, so I don’t end up with chunks of bread in my cutlets. Well combined patty mix is the key to success here.

Next step that might give some trouble to people who are not daily cooks is frying. If you make a bigger batch, it might get a little chaotic in the kitchen. How I do it is to prepare the whole surface and all the steps first. From throwing my cutlets into breadcrumbs, moving them to a cutting board where they wait for their turn on the pan and then a bigger dish that will handle the entire batch after it’s nice and golden brown.

Line it all up and make your cutlets first so you don’t have to grab anything (including the pan) while working with the patty. Try it out yourself and tell us, how it went!

minced cutlets recipe

Minced pork cutlets (Kotlety mielone)

Easy and tasty dinner, served with hot mashed potatoes and salad.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Polish
Servings 16 cutlets

Equipment

  • Non-stick pan the bigger the better, saves time when cooking
  • 2-3.5 litre pot for potatoes
  • potato masher also known as tuber destroyer or spud mincer

Ingredients
  

For cutlets

  • 500 g minced meat - preferably pork shoulder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Czubryca
  • 2 tsp dried wild garlic
  • 1 tsp lovage
  • 1 egg - free range if possible
  • 1/3 of meat's volume stale bread or a bread roll
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 ml milk - optional
  • salt & pepper - to taste
  • 5 tbsp lard
  • 50 g breadcrumbs

For mashed potatoes

  • 600 potatoes
  • 80 g butter
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt & pepper - to taste

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • Put the stale bread (or bun) into the mixture of milk and water, let it soak until very soft.
  • Peel and cut the potatoes, throw them into a pot and set them on medium heat. They will be done (or nearly done) before you finish the rest of this recipe.
  • Put breadcrumbs into a bowl, sprinke some over the countertop or bigger cutting board.
  • Put on the pan on medium heat. It will be ready to cook before you finish the first batch of cutlets.

Cooking cutlets

  • Squize out all the liquid from the soaked bun and throw it in the a bowl, add meat, egg and your herbs and spices. Mix very well using your hands.
  • Wet your hands to make rolling cutlets easier. Take a table spoon of your cutlet mix and roll into a bowl, squizing it gently to close any crevices. Make it oval, and flatten a bit, put it into the bowl with breadcrumbs, toss it around. When fully covered, put it on the countertop or cutting board you prepared earlier. Repeat as necessary.
  • Put a generous spoon of lard into the pan, let it melt. Put a few cutlets into the pan, let them brown on one side and then flip and squish them gently to keep them flattened. Give them half a minute to brown a bit on the other side and cover the pan with a lid to make them cook inside faster without losing much moisture.
  • After they feel firm under the touch, remove from the pan and scrape any fond using papertowel. It might be tempting to not clean it after each batch, but it will make each of them equally browned and tasty.
  • Repeat the process as many times as needed, it all depends on the size of your cutlets. Check on your potatoes after your first or second batch.

Making mashed potatoes

  • When your potatoes fall from the fork, they are ready. Don't worry about overcooking them, because you are going to mash them anyway.
  • Drain them and add the butter and all of the herbs and spices when they are still hot to ensure that they take all of the aroma.
  • Mash them down until you get a smooth, silky texture. Serve hot.

Notes

Your mashed potatotes will firm up when refridgerated. Don’t worry, it’s normal for buttered products. Just mash them up a bit, heat up on medium-low heat and mix occasionally. They will be good as fresh.
Keyword cutlets, mashed potatoes, pork
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