These juicy Russian meat patties aka Kotlety with a creamy mushroom sauce are the epitome of comfort food done right! Serve them with our Herb and Garlic Mashed Potatoes for a delicious and cozy dinner.
If you are interested in more classic Russian recipes, take a look at our Beef Stroganoff.
Last week our weather turned sharply but not unexpectedly… we are firmly into winter. I don’t mind the cold weather because centuries of surviving it taught us many invaluable lessons.
Eating and cooking comfort food is one of them! Meet Kotlety also spelled Kotleti; Russian meat patties that are a staple in every Slavic household.
I believe the word “kotlety” is a russified version of the French word “cotelette” aka cutlet in English. Russian kotlety (plural) are always made with ground meat. The meat itself varies but the most common is beef. My mother always used a mixture of beef and pork.
She believed the ground pork made the meat matties softer and juicier. I tend to agree and continue with her recipe. Kotlety could also be made with ground chicken or even fish!
Russians are extremely fond of their kotlety, and so are my Canadian husband and children. Actually everyone who’s ever tried them, loved them because Kotlety have magical properties.
They are the epitome of comfort food!
How To Make Them
Apart from being a very simple, non-fussy, unpretentious grub they are incredibly easy to fix. No wonder my working mum cooked them at least once a week. In fact all mums I knew made them just as often.
The meat mixture itself is not too different from an all American beef burger, which interestingly enough inspired the kotlety! It’s a crazy story how it came to be. Google it if you are curious!
Like I said, I prefer to mix ground beef and pork in equal parts. I tend to use low fat meat like 5% or 10% but if you want them fattier, go straight ahead.
While the onion is not a part of everyone’s recipe, I believe it is essential to enhance the flavour. I either grate it on a vegetable grater or use a food processor to avoid getting big chunks in the delicate patties.
Lastly, instead of using breadcrumbs for binding the meat mixture, it’s traditional to use white bread soaked in milk. Milk adds a touch of richness to the mixture. Try it. It’s absolutely lovely!
Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce
While kotely are rarely served with a sauce, I wanted to add my own spin. The sauce I am sharing today is also incredibly Russian, which makes it a perfect partner to our beef cutlets.
Mushrooms are one of the most loved ingredients in Eastern European cuisines, especially the wild varieties. Mushroom foraging is nearly a national sport, and one of the most favourite pastimes.
One of my fondest memories is being loaded in a car as a child and taken into the woods to hunt for mushrooms, feast on picnic food and discover the great outdoors with my family.
Wild mushrooms have a stronger earthy flavour, and are not nearly as watery as the ones grown specifically for supermarkets. To my delight, I’ve been noticing more wild mushrooms available for purchase lately.
For these meat patties I got a combination of oyster, shiitake, portobello and chestnut mushrooms to be blended into a creamy sauce. The result was nothing short of divine.
I usually tweak my mum’s recipes quite a bit to adjust them to our more modern taste and to streamline the cooking process.
In the case with these kotleti, I’ve done none of it. So lo and behold, an authentic Russian recipe, which was made the same way by my mother and both grandmothers. A true vintage if you wish.
More Classic Russian Recipes:
Recipe originally published in 12/2015. Updated and republished in 01/2021
For the meat patties
- 1 lbs extra lean ground beef 5% fat
- 1 lbs extra lean ground pork 5% fat
- 1 onion medium
- 1 slice white bread stale
- ½ cup /125 ml whole milk
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- oil for frying
For the wild mushroom sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 lbs wild mushrooms of your favourite kind or better yet a mix of different kinds
- 2 cups /500 ml double/heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- flat leaf parsley
For the meat patties
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Soak a slice of stale white bread in milk for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine ground pork and beef in a large mixing bowl. Process a medium onion in a food processor with two tablespoons of water until you have a paste or grate it using a vegetable grater, add to the mixture. Add soaked bread together with milk, salt and pepper and mix well with your hands.
- Scoop the meat mixture with a ⅓ cup and form an oval shaped patty, flatten it with a palm of you hand. Continue until all mixture is used up.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown patties in batches to avoid overcrowding and steaming. Fry patties on both sides over medium heat for approximately 5-7 minutes, resist the temptation to flatten your puffed up patties for even cooking.
- Put your browned patties in an oven proof pan in a single layer and cook in the preheated oven for additional 10 minutes.
For the wild mushroom sauce
- While the meat patties are cooking in the oven it's time to make the mushroom sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the chopped onion over low heat for 7-10 minutes, add minced garlic, and minced parsley stems but reserve the leaves for garnish. Add chopped mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add cream, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Blend into a smooth sauce in a food processor or a blender or leave it chunky.
- Serve meat patties with hot wild mushroom sauce and sprinkled with parsley.