There is a little bit of linguistic confusion with this dish – I have noticed it in most translations for this recipe.
Kotlety is the Polish word for cutlets or chops as discussed in my last post.
Mielone means minced – so kotlety mielone are what in the USA are called meat patties or now in England as burgers.
My mother called both dishes kotlety – I would realise from the ingredients as to which dish was being prepared in the kitchen.
We had kotlety mielone once a week at home, any left would be heated up in a sauce, often mushroom, the next day.
In Poland they would have been made with minced pork but previously this was hard to get and my mother found it hard work to use a hand mincer, so she made hers with minced beef using the beef that the butcher would mince for her.
In her original recipe she would use an onion which was grated finely; this was the job that was often delegated to me! Later on she changed her recipe and would chop up the raw onion finely and fry this up lightly and let it go cold before adding it to the mince mixture. I now like this second version better, but both are good and you can even do half and half.
Nowadays I use an electric mini chopper to “grate” the onion.
I used beef in this recipe for years and then tried pork, and also half and half; I like the ones half and half the best, however I always make sure it is lean pork mince.
500g minced beef or pork, or 250g of each
1 beaten egg
1 slice of white bread or bread roll, left for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk just the wet slightly squeezed bread
1 onion finely grated, or chopped and fried till golden brown and left to cool. (or half and half)
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together except for the dried breadcrumbs, it is best to do this using both hands, making sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
If the mixture seems too wet then add a tablespoon full of dried breadcrumbs and mix this in.
Pour some dried breadcrumbs onto a large plate or board.
Try to make each one the same size, take a handful of the mixture and press it between your hands to make a flattened circle and then place this in the dried breadcrumbs and turn it over to cover both sides and edges.
Once coated place them on a tray dusted with breadcrumbs until you have used all the mixture up.
Shallow fry the kotlety in hot oil, depending on the frying pan size, you can do 3 to 4 at a time, turning them over so that both sides are done. Place them on kitchen roll on a plate or metal tray till they are all cooked – you can keep them warm in a low oven.
I usually serve them with creamy mashed potatoes or lightly buttered boiled rice.
Sometimes I add some finely chopped peppers or chillies to the mixture and serve them with boiled rice.
You can make the kotlety with minced chicken or turkey.
In Poland many people think that ones made with minced veal are the best.
My cousin Janina (Jasia is the diminutive) in her farm house in the Mazurian lakes in North East Poland made some kotlety mielone which had an addition to the usual recipe. Each one had a small piece of stuffing inside. The meat recipe was the same as was the method of cooking but when she was making them, she placed a little extra at the centre and this added an extra dimension to an old favourite.
The stuffing she used was one of the following:
A cube of cheese – the type which will melt like Gouda or cheddar
A chunk of pickled gherkin.
A thick slice of fried mushroom.
The Next Day
You can eat any kotlety you have left, cold with mustard and any salad.
However if I have any kotlety left, I often re-heated them in a sauce in the oven, my favourite is mushroom sauce.
I often just make a very quick sauce by frying up some sliced mushrooms in a little butter, adding some stock (mushroom or chicken – made from a stock cube). Add the kotlety into the pan and heat them through in the oven for around 1 hour.
Add some soured cream mixed with a tablespoon of corn flour and out this back in the oven for a while or continue heating it on a top burner.
Super served with creamy mashed potatoes – sprinkle chopped dill or parsley over them before serving.
Served on Carnation (1982 – 1998) by Royal Doulton.
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.
Gołąbki are made using fresh cabbage and the name means little pigeon or dove. This name comes about from its size and shape and also from to the idea of this being a little delicacy.
The cabbage leaves are used to make a little parcel with a meat and rice filling and these are then cooked in a liquid stock or sauce.
I have read that this is a very old dish which originally came from the Byzantine Empire and was made with vine leaves, as it came north; cabbage leaves replaced the vine leaves.
The main 3 ingredients are: cabbage, rice and minced meat, and you also need a liquid to cook them in, which in my mother’s case was always a stock with tomatoes.
You can use white or Savoy cabbage. White cabbage has softer more pliable leaves and I think make the best gołąbki . Savoy cabbage has firmer leaves that are easier to work with but take longer to cook; these can be easier for a novice to use.
You need a large head of cabbage to get large leaves.
You can use any type of rice but the stickier types are the best.
The traditional Polish version uses pork. My mother used beef as this was more readily available in England. Now that minced pork is more available and you do not have to hand mince it, I use either or even mix the two.
There are many variations using, fresh or dried mushrooms, buckwheat instead of rice, and a stock without tomatoes. In fact buckwheat is a more older version as it grows in Poland and rice would have to be imported.
This recipe is my mother’s and for me this is just right!
Mama’s Classic Recipe
1 large head of white cabbage or Savoy cabbage
500g of minced beef or pork
chicken stock – a cube or concentrate will do
1 tube of tomato purée
salt & pepper
2 bay leaves
3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both
Although the gołąbki take a while to put together, you then leave them to cook in a slow oven for hours which is easy.
You can reheat them on the next day and in fact I think they taste better the longer they have been steeped in the cooking liquid and I always make them a day in advance.
They also freeze very well, so I pack any left in portions of 2 or 4 for a later date. Because of this I like to make as big a batch as I can in one go.
I use a very large enamelled oval dish with a lid which is ideal for this.
As you need whole largish cabbage leaves I sometimes use 2 cabbages to get the bigger leaves.
You need to parboil the rice in salted water so that it is about half way to being cooked and then strain the rice and let it go cold, but if you have some plain boiled rice left from another day you could use this as this is not critical.
In a large bowl mix the rice and minced meat and add salt and pepper. The exact amounts do not matter. I like it to look about 50/50 white and pink but these can be made with much more rice to eke out the meat available.
Next comes the hardest part and patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.
You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head. I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan with some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil to quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves. Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled.
As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves.
Pre heat the oven to GM2 – 150oC
Place a small handful of the rice & meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.
Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.
A tip I got from my late cousin, Krystyna, is to use extra cabbage leaves on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.
The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.
Make a large amount of liquid stock with hot water and tomato purée and add bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice.
Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.
Cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.
As mentioned earlier I make these a day beforehand and then put them back in the oven for an hour or so before serving.
They are a complete meal in themselves but you can give serve them with some bread to mop up all the liquid sauce.