Russian Cutlets: A Unique Take On The Classic Cutlet
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What's in a name? Cutlets are commonly attributed to a thin cut of meat that is tenderized or beaten down, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. Say like a German schnitzel or a Japanese katsu. In the United States, chicken parmigiana comes to mind that uses a whole chicken breast, butterflys it, tenderizes it, then coats it in dried breadcrubs and shallows fries it till deep brown, before adding tomato sauce on top with cheese.

But oh, the Russians! They but follow their own rules and Russian cutlets have an origin that's starkly different from the rest of the European interpretations of a cutlet. Russian kotleta or cutlet could trace its footsteps back to the early 19th century. Yevdokim Pozharsky, an owner of an inn and restaurant in the town of Torzhok, in Russia, famously made this signature cutlet which later came to be known as the Pozharsky cutlet. The cutlet by his namesake was different in the sense that he used ground veal or game instead of a specific cut of meat. When her daughter Darya Pozharsky inherited the inn in the 1830s, it was her idea to swap the veal for chicken and that's how the modern-day Russian cutlets came to be.

Russian cutlets are juicy and crispy. It uses a few vegetables in its cutlet mix which makes it stand apart from the burger patties of this world, and it uses roasted vermicelli as its coating, instead of dried breadcrumbs. These cutlets make for a perfect evening snack for the children or even the centerpiece of a house party. Since it is fried, we wouldn’t go so far as to say that they're healthy, but if you're looking to sneak in vegetables into your child's meals, the delicious Russian cutlets would be a perfect foil for that as well.

Image Credit: YouTube @Farheen's Kitchen

For the cutlet mix:

-2 tbsp oil

-¼ cup capsicum, finely chopped

-¼ cup carrots, finely chopped

-1 red onion, finely chopped

-1½ tbsp maida

-½ cup milk

-1 cup chicken, boiled and shredded

-1 potato, boiled and mashed

-2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped

-1 tbsp ginger garlic and green chilli paste

-½ tbsp salt

For shaping and coating the cutlets:

-2 eggs

-1 cup roasted vermicelli

-½ cup of vegetable oil

-½ tbsp salt


Preparing the cutlet mix:

-In a pan, add 2 tbsp of oil and put it on high heat.

-Once the oil gets hot, then add the red onions, capsicum and carrots. Sauté the ingredients for a couple of minutes.

-Add maida and salt to the vegetables and toast it until it loses its raw nutty flavour.

-Once the maida is sufficiently incorporated with the vegetables, add milk to the pan.

-The milk will interact with the flour and get reduced to form a thick white sauce. The sauce shouldn't be too runny, and once the sauce sticks well with the vegetables, remove it from the pan and onto a mixing bowl. Let the mixture cool.

-Once the white sauce mixture has cooled sufficiently, add in the shredded chicken, mashed potatoes, ginger garlic green chilly paste and fresh coriander leaves and mix well with your hands to form the cutlet mixture.

Shallow frying the cutlets:

-Whisk two eggs in a deep dish bowl with ½ tbsp salt.

-In a separate bowl, add 1 cup crushed roasted vermicelli.

-Grease your palms with a little bit of oil before forming the cutlet mixture into round balls.

-Dip the rounded cutlet mix into the beaten eggs. This will be the binder for the crushed vermicelli.

-Transfer the round cutlet mix onto the crushed vermicelli to get coated all around. Gently and evenly press on the balls to form a patty like structure.

-Repeat it with the rest of the cutlet mix and once they've all been shaped, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to let the cutlets rest and hold structure on its own.

-Heat ½ cup of oil in a deep pan for shallow frying.

-Fry the cutlets until it’s golden brown on both sides.

-Once done, remove it onto a paper towel to get rid of the excess grease. Serve them while hot and along with tomato ketchup.