Turkey Cutlets, aka Kotleti

A luscious spin on a Soviet-era favorite, by an emigre turned food-world luminary.

Special To The Jewish Week
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Kotleti (minced meat patties) were the most popular across the former Soviet Union. This recipe from my mother, Larisa, is a delicious cross between croquettes, kotleti, and chicken Kiev--which she makes with turkey for Thanksgiving. For extra succulence she tucks little pieces of butter inside each patty. For those keeping kosher, butter can be omitted or substituted with a small ice cube tucked inside patties. The cutlets work best when they're breaded and refrigerated for at least an hour before they're cooked, to firm them up. Serve them with the lavishly herbed cranberry relish (recipe also online) from the Republic of Georgia.

 

 

Ingredients: 
4 slices white sandwich bread, crusts discarded, torn into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream or milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (see headnote)
2 pounds ground turkey breast (or a combination of breast and dark meat)
2 large eggs, separated
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
Recipe Steps: 
Put the bread into a small bowl, cover with the cream let soak for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the cream. Cut 8 tablespoons of the butter into 16 small chunks and set aside.
Place the ground turkey in a food processor. Add the soaked bread, egg yolks, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Briefly pulse the mixture until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
In another bowl, whip the egg whites with a whisk until foamy. Fold into the turkey mixture with a rubber spatula. Divide the mixture into 16 even portions and form each into an oval patty. Tuck a reserved chunk of butter into the center of each patty. With your hands, shape the patties into 3 1/2-inch-long ovals that are 1/2-inch thick, making sure no butter is exposed. Place finished patties on a parchment paper–lined sheet pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Remove cutlets from refrigerator and coat them in the bread crumbs, pressing them to make them adhere. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil over medium heat until it sizzles. Working in batches, fry the cutlets, turning once, until golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Serve with the cranberry relish. Makes 16 cutlets.