An authentic Persian kotlet has a very simple ingredient list consisting of ground beef, mashed potatoes, grated raw onion (I caramelize mine, some use half-and-half), eggs, salt, pepper, and turmeric. It is mixed, formed, padded with breadcrumbs and fried. Almost every country has its version of meat patties/cutlet dishes, all very tasty. However, I am biased… Persian kotlet is something else! Mmm Mmm! It is a comfort food, a taste of Mom/home. This somewhat time-consuming dish is a menu item everyone wishes someone else would make and serve you piping hot.
Kotlet • کتلت • Persian Cutlets
• 340 g/ 12 oz/ 1 medium-large potato
• 340 g/ 12 oz/ 1 large carrot (not a traditional ingredient, it also adds color)
• 340 g/ 12 oz/ 1 large onion, minced/grated,
. . . or 2 heaping Tbsp caramelized onion (or half of each)
• 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 454 g/ 1 lb lean ground beef
• 3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional – not a traditional ingredient but adds color)
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• ¾ tsp salt
• 1/8 ~ ¼ tsp ground black pepper
• 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (optional, but adds good flavor and aroma)
• 2 large eggs
• 1½ ~ 2 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (coating may be skipped, if the meat mixture is solid and use of less oil is preferred. Top photo is of cutlets w/o breadcrumbs)
• vegetable oil for frying
◊ Do not use food-processor at any part of making this recipe.
◊ To save cooking time, peel the potato and carrot, cut each into four large pieces and boil them in a saucepan until a thin knife can go through smoothly. Carrots cook faster and should be removed first. (Don’t overcook, better a tad hard than soggy.) Drain well, while hot, mash them smooth, with no lumps, and let cool.
◊ Meanwhile: In a large fry-pan, on medium heat, heat 3 Tbsp oil. Sauté minced onion until starts caramelizing on the edges. Turn off and remove from heat. Scoop/drain out the sautéed onion and add to the large heat safe bowl. Set aside to cool completely. Leave the skillet as is with the remainder of the oil. It will be used later.
◊ Preparation for frying: Cover the counter space next to the burner with a large piece of plastic wrap. This is where formed patties will be placed before frying. Line a large heat-resistant platter with paper-towel and set next to the burner. Pour half of the breadcrumbs at one corner of the counter lined with plastic-wrap or in a plate (use more as needed).
◊ To the cooled potato mix, add ground beef, caramelized onion, spices and eggs. (At this point, I strongly recommend… before kneading the mixture, wear medical-exam gloves to keep your nails/cuticles from turning yellow, due to the turmeric. If you don’t, it will wash off after a few washes, of course). Knead the mixture for a couple of minutes, until well incorporated. This is the secret to avoid patties falling apart in the oil while frying.
◊ Have a saucer with water ready. Dampen your hands/gloves with water and take a lump, size of a large egg, from the meat mixture. Roll between your palms for 10 seconds to form a firm ball. On your palm, flatten the ball into a pear shape, approximately 12cm x 7cm /4.5″x2.5″ (shrinks a bit after frying), a perfect shape for placing them in the large fry-pan (see photos below).
◊ Place formed patty on the breadcrumbs and cover it lightly with breadcrumbs and lay it on the covered counter.
◊ Using a large fry-pan, add oil 6mm/ ¼” deep. Heat on medium. It is wise to turn on the exhaust fan at this time.
◊ When the oil is hot, start putting in the cutlets without overcrowding. Fry one side for about 4 ~ 5 minutes, until a brown crust forms. Then with support of two, flat silicone or wooden spatula, flip and fry the other side for about 3 ~ 4 minutes. Put the fried patties on a plate lined with paper-towel to drain excess oil. (Note: For best result, to avoid burning breadcrumbs in the oil, strain the oil in a heat safe bowl, wipe fry-pan thoroughly with a paper towel, return the strained oil to the fry-pan, add more oil if needed, and start the next batch.
◊ Kotlet also makes great sandwich meat with sliced tomatoes, pickled cucumbers (in brine), mayo and Dijon mustard.
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?