Kotlety were a favorite comfort food of mine growing up. My Mom made the best Kotlety; full of flavor and made with love. It's funny how a simple food like this triggers vivid memories. Once in a while my Mom's Kotlety came out slightly "over-browned" or as my Dad called them,"burnt", but I still enjoyed them thoroughly. My Dad grumbled and teased my Mom a bit as he scraped off burnt sides, but we all still enjoyed them. They were my comfort food that made a bad day seem better. The very first time I tried cooking them myself as a teenager, I remember burning my forearm with a big splash of hot oil after rushing and dropping a kotleta (singular form of kotlety) into a hot pan. Ouch! That was also one of my first experiences cooking for my parents. I've cooked a lot more kotlety since then with no major issues; only delicious outcomes and very satisfied tasters.
Russian/Ukrainian Burgers without the Bun
If you ever eat a burger with a Russian or Ukrainian who might have not eaten a western burger before, (many years back) you might have seen them taking off the bun and eating all the toppings separately, using a fork to eat the "burger." That is what I remember seeing at times in my travels and encounters with Russians growing up. Times have changed over the years of course as western culture has infiltrated most Eastern European countries. You will see people eating Kotlety with ketchup as a topping, sautéed mushrooms, onions or maybe even a creamy white mushroom sauce (my Dad's and now my husband's favorite way to eat them, recipe in future post).
Kotlety are also sometimes considered more like large meatballs and served with mashed potatoes or over rice with a vegetable or side salad.
Kotlety are an Eastern European dish, served mostly in Russia or Ukraine. They can be made with ground beef, pork, chicken or even turkey. My personal preference is a beef and pork combination, which is often the way my Mom made them. She is originally from the Ukraine. Chicken Kotlety are very popular in Russian, though they're not my personal preference. My family today loves the beef and pork combination the best. My kids compliment me through the entire meal when I make these, and I just eat it up; thrilled that they love a Slavic comfort food I grew up loving.
Kotlety can be cooked on a standard non stick or cast iron skillet, but be prepared to have multiple skillets going at the same time to get them all cooked in a timely fashion. Also, you can cook them on a panini press as I've tried in the past. As of the last couple years now we've only cooked them on our Blackstone. The Blackstone is a beautiful addition to any home cook's "outdoor" kitchen. I can't imagine our life without the Blackstone now. It's a game changer. See below how we cook kotlety on the Blackstone Griddle.
Blackstone Kotlety (Update-2021)
So much has changed since I initially posted this recipe on my site. I now only cook my kotlety on our Blackstone Griddle. What a game changer the Blackstone Griddle is! My husband and I received the Blackstone as a Christmas gift and ever since that day our cooking methods have changed, even with our go-to recipes we've made for years. Now, for the last year it's the ONLY way we've cooked my Kotlety. I prepare them the same; make a huge batch so there are plenty of leftovers and my husband cooked them all at the same time on the Blackstone. It's a time-saver and the least messy way to cook them for sure. If you've already got a Blackstone, give it a try! He uses a griddle dome to cover the Kotlety, a few at a time till they're done.
If you don't have a Blackstone and are cooking indoors making kotlety with a panini press is far from the traditional Russian recipe, but so convenient and efficient if you don't have a Blackstone or large cast iron skillet you can cover. They cook in just 4-5 minutes flat, depending on your panini press. Ours will cook to temp (minimum 165 degrees) in 4 minutes, but for a nicer brown I'll cook them for 5 minutes. I like our particular panini press for these because it has height adjustments and I can simply make my patty as a ball and then set it to the level above "toast" and set down the press. It leaves an opening on the panini press and the kotlety is squished just to the right height still cooking both sides simultaneously. This panini press also is great because it leaves grill marks on one side only so you can choose whether to serve with grill marks or not and it cooks more evenly than deep grooved panini presses (this press also has a perfect pre-set temperature).