Thursday, 12 September 2013

Kotlety: Yummy Russian burgers

I would like to add another burger recipe to your cooking repertoire today - a Russian/Ukrainian one. An absolute staple in the East Slavic diet. Back home we make our mince ourselves, as the shop bought one used to be awful. (I just wanted to make mince joke, but when I translated it into English, it sounded so gross, I thought it may put you off your food, but do tell me if you want to hear it and I'll 'hide' it in the comments). Swiftly moving on...

The British shop bought mince is absolutely fine for this, just don't buy the cheapest one - as it may turn out to be made with horse meat. Nothing wrong with it, but not for this recipe.

I make my burgers with half pork half beef mince to add fattiness and juiciness, but most Ukrainians would probably just use pork. My babushka certainly did.

We don't eat them with bread though. Russian burgers are eaten like meatballs. A traditional way of serving them is with mashed potato and fresh veg salad or buckwheat kasha and fresh veg salad. You can have ketchup or mayonnaise, but the juicy salad is normally doing the job of the sauce/gravy. Watch this space for some Russian raw veg salads.

Kotlety: Russian Burgers
(makes at least 12)


500g - Beef mince (don't bother with the lean one - you want a bit of fat in it)
500g - Pork mince
1 large onion peeled and chopped into quarters
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium raw potato - peeled
1 small white bun - you can use a stale one, or any stale white bread
150ml milk
1 egg
Unrefined sunflower oil for frying.
salt, pepper


Put the white bun into a cup and cover it with milk. Let it soften.
Put all the mince into a large mixing bowl.
Chop the onion, garlic and potato in a food processor. Add the bun when ready and soft. (Discard the milk).
Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl (don't forget the egg, it will bind it all better together). Season well. Don't be shy to use your hands - the mince needs to be well mixed.

You may ask why we added potato and a white bun? They moisturise the meat and soak up all the juices too, so you end up with soft and juicy meatballs.

If you have time, let the mince rest in the fridge for 20 min.
Take it out and divide into small burgers. The shape should be oval and slightly flattened. Twice or even three times as big as a meatball, but smaller than a burger.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers on both sides until ready. As we are using pork mince, you can't have them medium or medium rare. They need to be well done, but with all those additional ingredients, they will turn out nice and juicy.

Serve with dill as part of a meal (see above) or on their own as cocktail party food with mayonnaise or ketchup. You can stick them in a bun too, if you want to go British on them.

Next - some Russian salads and stories from babushka's village.

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