Delicious Moldovan Pirjoale / Russian Kotleti Recipe

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A simple and delicious meat dish, Moldovan “pirjoale” are meat patties with a deep, rich flavor, ideal for serving with many different sides, from creamy mash potato to crunchy bread. They are popular in Russian cuisine where they are known as “kotleti,” in Ukrainian cuisine, and other Eastern European and Balkan cuisines.

Making “pirjoale”/katleti is Moldovan cooking at its purest, creatively combing meats and a handful of ingredients to create a dish that is diverse, easily stored, and packed with flavor. This recipe, inspired by my mother’s recipe growing up, will show you how to make this beloved Moldovan staple.

Moldovan Chicken & Pork Meat Patties/Kotleti Recipe

Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make them:

  • The meat mixture: chicken breast (880 grams or 2lb), pork leg fillet (540 grams or 1.2lb)
  • 2 onions
  • garlic (6-7 cloves)
  • salt, 1 tbsp
  • pepper, 1 tbsp
  • thyme, 1 tbsp
  • 3 eggs (3 yolks and 2 egg whites)
  • tomato paste (2 tbsp)
  • 3 slices of white bread (crust cut off, soaked in sparkling water)
  • sparkling water (100-150 ml or about 1/2 cup)
  • olive oil for cooking and for shaping the meat patties

Step-By-Step Instructions

First, we want to mince the meat, onions, and garlic. We’re using an old-school meat grinder similar to this one (affiliate link). You can get some very affordable ones these days. You could also mince it in a food processor or get a meat grinder attachment for your KitchenAid (if you have one).

If you don’t have anything you could use, you can buy already ground meat (mince) from the supermarket. It just won’t taste quite as flavorful!

So, to mince the meat, first, cut it up into cubes and put it in the meat grinder or food processor.

Then, add the onions and the garlic.

Soak the bread in the sparkling water. Then, remove the bread and press it with your hands to remove the water. Mince the bread as well and add it to the mixture.

At the same time, add 3 eggs (3 yolks and 2 egg whites, beaten), salt, pepper, thyme, and tomato paste.

Knead the meat mince, which is our ‘dough’ for the “kotleti,” for about 10 minutes.

Cover it and put it in the fridge to rest for about 10 minutes.

Preheat a pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil when the pan is hot. Shape the meat patty and add it to the pan. Repeat until the pan is full.

Turn the heat in the pan to medium or medium-low (depending on your hob, check that the meat patties don’t burn) & cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Make sure you don’t burn them but that they’re nice and browned on the outside. You may have to adjust the heat as you cook.

Repeat the process until you’ve cooked all the meat patties. After each round, put all the meat patties in a pot with a lid.

Add 50 ml of water and put the pot on a low simmer for about 10 minutes. This steams them and makes them quite juicy while also ensuring they fully cook on the inside.

Once the patties have set for 10 minutes, they are ready to serve! However, before serving, cut a meat patty in half and make sure they’re fully cooked.

What to Serve with Prijoale/Kotleti

“Kotleti” are so versatile you can serve them with practically anything! My favorite pairing is kotleti and mashed potatoes with a mushroom sauce and a side salad. But they go also well simply with freshly baked bread, buckwheat, rice, and salad.

When cooked to perfection, the browned meat will glisten under light, indicating a rich and juicy patty of meat. As you can see here, served with a side of creamy mash, the colors and flavors alone are enough to get the mouth watering, let alone the aroma and, ultimately, the taste!

Moldovan Prijoale / Russian Kotleti Recipe Card

Moldovan Pirjoale / Russian Kotleti Recipe

Moldovan Pirjoale / Russian Kotleti Recipe

Ingredients

  • chicken breast (880 grams or 2lb)
  • pork leg fillet (540 grams or 1.2lb)
  • 2 onions
  • garlic (6-7 cloves)
  • salt, 1 tbsp
  • pepper, 1 tbsp
  • thyme, 1 tbsp
  • eggs (3 yolks and 2 egg whites)
  • tomato paste (2 tbsp)
  • 3 slices of white bread (crust cut off, soaked in sparkling water)
  • sparkling water (100-150 ml or about 1/2 cup)
  • olive oil for cooking and for shaping the meat patties

Instructions

  1. First, mince the meat, onions, and garlic using a meat grinder or food processor. To mince the meat, first, cut it up into cubes and put it in the meat grinder or food processor. Then, add the onions and the garlic.
  2. Soak the bread in the sparkling water. Then, remove the bread and press it with your hands to remove the water. Mince the bread as well and add it to the mixture.
  3. Add the eggs (3 yolks and 2 egg whites, beaten), salt, pepper, thyme, and tomato paste to the mixture.
  4. Knead the mixture, which is our ‘dough’ for the “kotleti,” for about 10 minutes.
  5. Cover it and put it in the fridge to rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat a pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil when the pan is hot. Shape the meat patty and add it to the pan. Repeat until the pan is full.
  7. Turn the heat in the pan to medium or medium-low (depending on your hob, check that the meat patties don’t burn) & cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Make sure you don’t burn them but that they’re nice and browned on the outside. You may have to adjust the heat as you cook.
  8. Repeat the process until you’ve cooked all the meat patties. After each round, put all the meat patties in a pot with a lid.
  9. Add 50 ml of water and put the pot on a low simmer for about 10 minutes. This steams them and makes them quite juicy while also ensuring they fully cook on the inside.
  10. Once the patties have steamed for 10 minutes, they are ready to serve! However, before serving, cut a meat patty in half and make sure they’re fully cooked.

Notes

If you don’t have a meat grinder or food processor to mince the meat, you can buy ground meat (mince) from the supermarket instead. It just won’t taste quite as flavorful!

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Author: Doina is a content strategist and passionate foodie, originally from Chisinau, Moldova. She loves to replicate both dishes from her childhood, and foods she has discovered on her travels, in her home kitchen, and use them to inspire new dishes and fusions.

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