Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kotleti the story of the Russian hamburger patty

Photo by Jessica Raytselsky
In the article Adding citrus fiber to meatballs improves nutritional quality, does not affect taste from the Science Daily it explains how by adding citrus powder to meatballs can improve the nutritional value of the meatballs without changing the taste or texture. I happen to agree with this article and have my own rendition I'd like to share with you. I have the perfect recipe to contribute to this article. 

There is an Eastern European Kotleti or cutlets, which is a Russian version of a hamburger patty except we eat it without a bun. It's usually ground meat with onions that is formed into little flat and round patties. You can add nutritional value to this recipe by adding all sorts of veggies into it. You can add spinach, carrots, mushrooms, kale, parsley and so much more and even if you wanted to add citrus powder you could and according to this article it’s proven that it won't change any flavors or textures. 

I'd like to argue that Kotleti are way better than American hamburger patties. It is way better than a boring, bland hamburger patty because it is more flavorful-that's garlicky, crispier, and moister than a typical American patty. Plus Kotleti has fewer calories since there is no bun used when eating the patties while American hamburgers usually are eaten inside of a bun. 

The difference between Russian Kotleti and American Hamburger patties first is it has onions, garlic and bread crumbs. Second, Russians don't eat it inside of a hamburger bun like Americans do. Third, it is golden and crispy on the outside and juicy, moist and more flavorful in the inside.American patties tend to be over cooked, dry, flavorless, and way too greasy. The Odessa style, which is the Ukrainian style, is made with mayo as the binding agent rather than the usual egg. I make these Kotleti usually for a lunch or for dinner served with mashed potatoes or salad. 

Have you ever smelt the aroma of Kotleti cooked by a Russian Babushka (Russian grandmother or older lady)? If you haven't had the privilege of smelling this wonderful aroma you are truly missing out and can't miss out on this delicious recipe to recreate the aroma in your kitchen. I love cooking this recipe because this dish is very sentimental to me because my grandma would always make them for me when I was younger. It was the first Russian food I learned to make. 

According to another blog written about Kotleti the author talks about a book called Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, the blog author explains how the author of the book says that the USSR lived off Kotleti because they were cheap and easy to make. Apparently a trip to America in 1936 the Yankee burger inspired the cutlet but some how the bun got lost in translation. If you want to learn about Soviet cooking you can read more about it in a New York Times article titled Beyond Borcht Sara Wheeler. It's actually incredibly interesting to learn about and a lot I didn't know myself. 

Yield about 4 or 5 people: 

  • lbof ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey) whichever you prefer if you want a light option use ground turkey or chicken because they are very lean.
  • 1 onion grated 
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of mayo.
  • I usually use a piece of old bread and get it wet enough that it's falling apart and use the inside or you can use a cup or two of bread crumbs.
  • Optional add ins (you can add parsley, spinach, cheese, kale, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers or even orange powder.
  • Salt and pepper to your liking
1) Grate the onion and garlic. 
2) Combine the grated onions and the garlic with ground meat.
3) Add the egg or mayo to mixture.
4) Mix well!
5) Add breadcrumbs or old bread to mixture 
6) Add salt and pepper
7) Mix well again!
8) Form into balls that are about an inch or an inch in a half diameter, and then flatten into ovals.
9) Heat pan with oil.
10) Cook until golden brown on the inside and moist and soft on the inside.

Enjoy! :)

What are your experiences with hamburger patties? What is a memory you have of eating or making hamburger patties?


  1. My experience with hamburger patties are that the taste is good, but way too messy. My memories all tell me to never eat patties if I have another choice.

  2. When I was a kid, I used to only love Burger King patties and if I could make a patty, I would hope it's a healthier version of a BK one haha.

    You should make Russian Patties for the class :)

  3. I love hamburger patties fresh of the grill between buns and with slices of tomato and a slice of Swiss cheese.