Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Polish Hamburgers...A Perfect Comfort Meal

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.    
I struggled with what to call these meat patties in English.  Google translate wasn't very helpful because they are not cutlets as we think of Pork or Lamb cutlets. As you can see from the picture, they aren't traditional burgers, they aren't baby meatloaves, and they aren't Caribbean meat patties. So I decided to just not worry about it, because anyone who grew up with classic Polish cuisine is probably familiar with these traditional "kotlety siekane."

The texture and flavor of these patties are vaguely reminiscent of a Polish meatloaf…only more dense.  What makes them truly Polish is that they are rolled in breadcrumbs, and browned before baking.  The recipe here is a classic version, but you can easily make it your own by adding into the meat mix some finely chopped, fresh mushrooms and dill (of course) or other herb.  But please be cautious with the herbs—too much, or more than one, could be overwhelming. After all, the meat is the star of this dish.

You can also freeze any leftover patties and serve them later for a quick and delicious cold lunch, sliced thinner on a very fresh, crisp hard roll with sliced tomato and a little mayo, and with a crunchy Polish dill pickle on the side.  

Yields 6 patties 

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 slices of dry white bread
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 ½  pounds meatloaf mix, OR: 
    1 pound ground beef
    ½ pound pork
1/3 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the bread in the milk until all the milk is absorbed by the bread.  Rip the wet bread into very small pieces.  

Saute the chopped onion in the bacon drippings until golden.  Set aside to cool.  (Hint: we always keep a jar of bacon drippings in our fridge for just these kinds of uses.)

Combine the beef, pork, egg, bread, and onions in a large bowl.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Form the mixture into 6 thick, round patties about three inches across, and one inch thick.  Roll them in bread crumbs.  Brown the patties in the oil.  Place the patties in a casserole dish and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

In the interest of healthier eating, you could also make these with ground chicken or turkey, as shown in this image borrowed from

Garnish with a sprig of dill, and serve with your favorite vegetables, sliced tomato, cabbage beet salad, or any other seasonal side dish.