Ground or minced meat is a staple for most cultures and cuisines around the world. When I think of ground meat, I think – tasty, mushy, flavorful, a burger, maybe even ‘scanty’ as in, it can get lost in a dish of pasta or a meat sauce. But if I had to describe it in one word, it would be ‘versatile’.
While, most often than not, when we think of ground meat, it’s mostly an all American ground beef cheeseburger that comes to mind, the truth is that ground meat – and this could be beef, chicken, pork and mutton or veal – is used in many ways – in quiches, pot pies or a Shepard’s pie to meatballs and even in soups!
Now, break down that all American ground beef burger and you’re left with what you might call a ‘patty’, similar to the cutlet, schnitzel or kofta.
The focus of my post today is the difference between these various forms of ground meat/ mince & their versatility when it comes to cooking. Keep reading to find out how I made my version of this ‘patty’ recently for dinner & why it was a hit with my family!
A Patty is often described as a small flat cake of minced i.e. ground or finely chopped food, especially meat, typically served in a sort of sandwich called a “burger”, or a hamburger if the patty is made from ground beef. However, patty or Pljeskavica originated and is a national dish of Serbia, also popular in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. It is a traditional meal, normally grilled of spiced meat patty mixture of pork, beef and lamb, which only through American fast food chains became known around the world.
Often confused with a Patty, a Cutlet, is actually not ground or minced but is a boneless, thin cut of meat, shaped like a croquette i.e. cutlet shaped— from the leg or ribs of veal, pork, chicken, or mutton chicken, veal, pork, or lamb. The Poles say chicken kiev, kotlet kurczeta, originated in the Polish city of Kijow, while the French say it was invented by Nicolas Francois Appert in the 18th century and adopted by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1741–1762) of Russia who preferred French foods and fashions. Most cutlets are made by pounding the meat until there is an even thinness. Because this thin cut of meat cooks very quickly, it is often dusted with flour or coated in breadcrumbs before being pan-fried.
One form of the cutlet, is a German schnitzel (or Schweineschnitzel). This is traditionally made with pork chops that are also thinly breaded and fried in a tender crisp coating.
The Kofta is a family of meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent, South Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian cuisines. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork—mixed with spices or onions. Patties are often confused with Koftas, since both are made of ground/ minced meat. However, we now know that the origin & shape of the two differ. The kofta can be fried and eaten dry or added to a thick gravy and served on rice or eaten with flatbread. When made from a mix of other finely chopped vegetables, most significantly potatoes – for a vegetarian diet – these koftas are called ‘Tikkis’ in the Indian subcontinent and surrounding regions.
Ground chicken is always a part of my family’s grocery list. We have to have it at least once if not twice every week. And while I try switching up the serving format & spices, cooking ground meat is a time consuming, not to mention messy process (it releases a lot of water). With the kids’ soccer season and other changes to our routine, I had to find a less-involved, convenient way to use my ground chicken. I found the solution was Baked Chicken Patty. They taste awesome, don’t require a lot of involvement, left overs last for days & can be used in a variety of ways!
- 2 lbs ground chicken
- 1 diced green chilli
- 1 small onion, diced (2/3 cup diced)
- 1 cup chopped coriander/cilantro
- 1 ½ tsp Worcestershire or Worcester sauce
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 3 tbs breadcrumbs (to bind the meat together)
- Oil for frying
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Salt & Pepper
- 1 tsp Dried Italian herbs/ parsley
- Step 1: Seasoning the meat
Empty the ground chicken into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped/ diced green chilies, onions and cilantro-coriander. Add all the dry spices, bread crumbs & mix well. Lastly, add the beaten eggs and bind well into the meat.
- Step 2: Shaping the cutlet
Next, grab a chuck of the seasoned meat, and start shaping into a croquette/ cutlet shape. A quick way to do this is shape it into a ball first and then using your palms, gently pat /flatten it into a round flat disc. Choose a size that is convenient for you. I make an assortment of sizes and then let family members choose, depending on their appetite! The mix should be just wet enough to shape & hold together but not too wet that it breaks apart. Place each cutlet on a baking tray lined with foiled. Drizzle oil over the cutlets on pan.
- Step 3: Baking
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the tray of Cutlets for 20 mins or until lightly brown. The baking process is not for browning (that’s where the frying comes in) but just to make sure they are cooked. Remove from bake and cool before frying.
- Step 4: Frying
In a frying pan, heat oil. I like to flavor my oil with garlic or a mild dried spice – Cajun or BBQ powder – or even some turmeric & chili flakes. This of course is optional.
Note: Dry spices burn easily, so be cautious or avoid. Once oil is hot enough (splatter stage), place the cutlets, batch by batch, in the pan & fry both sides for a min or till golden brown & crispy depending on your preference.
- Step 5: Pairing & serving the cutlets
I served my cutlets with rice and a vegetable. They also go well with burger buns and on a salad.
Another option is to break up the cutlets and serve it up as a rolled wrap with lettuce, peppers and a sauce of your choice… kind of like a burrito!
If you really want to be adventurous, like me, make a Thai coconut curry or Indian curry base and add your left-over cutlets to this to serve as a completely new dish the next night for dinner. Your family will not know the difference and will appreciate your effort!