The word kotlety(plural) come from the Italian word cotoletta(singular) for cutlet or chop.
Kotlety are made from pork loin or porkchops and the meat is beaten thin, dipped in beaten egg, coated in dried breadcrumbs and quickly shallow fried in oil
They can also be called bitki – which means something that is beaten or kotlety panierowane – which means coated in breadcrumbs.
Coteletta alla Milanesie is veal coated in breadcrumbs and is thought to be the inspiration for Wiener Schnitzel.
I do not know if the dish arrived in Poland from Italy or Austria however for many this is thought of as a very Polish dish. I have had this served in every Polish home I have visited and it is usually on most Polish restaurant menus.
My mother used to make them with either pork chops or pork loin if it was available. Nowadays pork loin is readily available and that is what I use.
Thin slices of pork loin – around 2 pieces per person
Beaten egg – 1 tends to be enough for up to 3 to 4 people
Dried breadcrumbs – home made – look for bułka tarta in a Polish shop
Sunflower oil for frying
Trim the fat from the meat.
Use a metal or wooden kitchen mallet – (I find the wooden ones with very spiky heads are a bit too rough.) to beat the meat slices, turning them over to do both sides.
Have the beaten egg in a shallow dish and dip in a slice or two meat at a time.
Have the breadcrumbs on a large plate and dip the egg coated slices in the breadcrumbs, turning them over to cover both sides.
I use a cast iron frying pan into which I put some sunflower oil and heat this up to a medium to highish heat.
Quickly fry the kotlety, first on one side and then turn them over to do the over side.
You do not want the oil too hot so it burns the breadcrumbs however you do not want the heat too low or the breadcrumbs will soak up too much oil and be very greasy.
I find you can do two at a time (three if they are small pieces).
You can place the cooked ones onto kitchen paper whilst you do the rest and you can also keep them in a low oven till they are all done.
I like the freshly cooked ones the best – I always choose the last ones fried!
I serve these with creamy mashed potato, cooked frozen green peas and a Polish salad such as the ones made with sauerkraut.
Sometimes I add an English style, home made apple sauce made from the Bramley apples in my garden.
This recipe has evolved from two of my mother’s recipes. One was for klops – Polish meatloaf and the other was for the meat stuffing that she used in her roast chicken.
The meatloaf would have been made in Poland with minced pork but often in England my mother used minced beef as it was more available. To this was added grated onion, bread moistened with milk, a beaten egg, salt & pepper; this was shaped into an oval shape and covered with dried breadcrumbs and baked in the oven.
In many of the Polish recipes the meatloaf is baked in a loaf tin or a shallow roasting tray. I however like the open baked version as I love the crunchy breadcrumbs on the outside.
The meat stuffing for chicken was originally made with minced pork, (if this was not available my mother used English style sausage meat) grated onion, bread moistened with milk, a beaten egg and salt & pepper and dried breadcrumbs were added to firm it up and this was used to stuff the chicken.
As there was usually some left my mother would shape this, put dried breadcrumbs on top and bake this in the oven with the chicken. We always wanted to eat some of this and even liked the extra bit better that the actual stuffing because of its crispy coat. She started to make more of it so that we could all have some at dinner. My nephew and nieces called this Grandma’s meat.
This extra stuffing has also evolved, the grated raw onion has been replaced by chopped fried onion ( though you can use both ) and now I use a mixture of minced pork and English style sausage meat.
Frying a Chopped Onion
Luxury or Premium sausage meat is the best to use but often shops only have this available at Christmas, when it is in stock I buy quite a lot and freeze it for several occasions. Sometimes it is sold in 1kilogramme packs, I usually cut these into two or four and re-wrap.
When I cannot get the luxury sausage meat I buy good quality pork sausages and remove the skins.
Now when I have visitors for a roast chicken they always want to make certain that I will be doing a meatloaf as well, some say this is what they most look forward to eating on Christmas Day!
None of the amounts given are exact; they are only for a guide.
500g of luxury sausage meat
500g of lean minced pork
2 medium onions finely chopped and fried till golden brown
1 large egg beaten with salt & pepper
1 slice of white bread – left for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk.
2 teaspoons of Italian herbs or similar
Pre heat the oven to GM 5 – 190oC
Lightly grease a thick baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl mix everything together except the dried breadcrumbs. Use your hands to get everything thoroughly mixed in.
Add some dried breadcrumbs to firm up the mix as necessary.
Shape your mixture on to the baking sheet making it into an oval shape rather like a bloomer loaf of bread – make it as high as you can.
Cover the loaf with lots of dried breadcrumbs and place into the oven. It will take about 1hour 30minutes maybe longer – it needs to be done to a golden to very golden colour and the breadcrumbs will be crispy.
Cut into thick slices to serve, any left can be eaten cold with a salad.
If you have any left over and cannot eat it the next day or so – then it freezes very well – I wrap slices first in aluminium foil and then in a plastic freezer bag.
This is another way my mother had of using boiled potatoes – I do not remember her boiling the potatoes especially for these – she would make them with leftover boiled potatoes. (Not that she did not know how many to potatoes to cook for a meal – she would often cook more so she had some for a different use the next day.)
I have given approximate weights below – once you have made them you will know what to expect – I do not think my mother ever weighed out the quantities – just went by eye and consistency.
This will make around 12 croquettes
500g of starchy potatoes – such as King Edward or Maris Piper
20g of melted butter
1 beaten egg
2 to 3 tablespoons of plain flour
Vegetable oil such as sunflower for shallow frying.
Mash the boiled,cold potatoes so that they are smooth and without lumps.
Add the slightly cooled, melted butter and the beaten egg and mix together.
Add the flour and mix to a soft dough – not too much flour as a soft dough gives a more fluffy croquette.
Divide the dough into 4 manageable pieces and roll out into a long sausage shape and divide them into 3. You are aiming for equal sizes of around 3cm deep and 4cm wide by 10cm long.
Shallow fry the croquettes in hot vegetable oil in a frying pan, turning them over so that both sides are golden and crispy.
Potato Croquettes – A Variation
The above is how my mother made these croquettes, whilst looking through my Polish cookery books I came across the following variation also which I tried out & I like these as well.
Method – as above – but instead of just melted butter, fry till golden, half a finely chopped onion in 20 -30g of butter.
Leave this to cool before adding it to the potato mixture.
I was well into my 20s before I realised that there was a special French culinary phrase to describe, what to me, was just the regular topping that my mother and aunties put onto certain cooked vegetables.
Within my family I had never been served cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or whole green beans without a lovely crispy buttery breadcrumb mixture.
I have not discovered when this term was first used in France but some sources think it might have come into use in the early part of the 19th century when many Polish political émigrés came to France and in particular Paris.
Method for the Vegetables
Cook your cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or whole green bean in whatever way you like best.
You can if you wish cook the cauliflower whole – this can have quite a good effect when served.
I like to steam the vegetables as I find I can get them just right – cooked – but still with a bit of bite this way.
Place the cooked (and drained if necessary) vegetables in a serving dish.
Pour the buttery topping over the vegetables.
You will get a buttery crunchy taste which is a contrast to the vegetables.
Method for the à la Polonaise topping
The topping is made by melting in a saucepan 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of butter.
(If you use unsalted butter then add a pinch or two of salt)
Add to this around 2 tablespoonfuls of dried breadcrumbs and keep on the heat and stir for a few minutes.
Pour the buttery mix over the vegetables.
Cauliflower à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Carnation produced from 1982 to 1998.
Brussels Sprouts à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Roundelay produced from 1970 to 1997.
Whole green beans à la Polonaise
Some cookery books say that chopped hard boiled eggs and chopped flat leaf parsley are added to the topping.
Personally I have not found this to be usually so, although chopped hard boiled eggs are added to many salads and to certain soups in Poland and chopped flat leafed parsley is very often used as a garnish.