Rabu, 26 Februari 2014

Estonian meatballs aka hakk-kotletid aka kotletid aka hakklihakotletid

Estonian meatballs. Hakk-kotletid, täitsa tavalised.

Here's a posting I didn't think I'd be doing - after all, kodused kotletid are such a humble comfort food and they're not exactly the runner-up for the "Most Photogenic Food" title. Yet I've recently understood that there is something wee bit unique about the typical Estonian hakk-kotlet - namely, the main ingredient. Of course, that's minced meat, but majority of Estonians would use a mixture of beef and pork, 50:50 ratio. And while it's perfectly acceptable to go and buy a packet of one (say, beef) and a packet of another (pork), then more often than not we simply reach out and buy one of the mixes. I'm not talking about seasoned sausagemeat or some other minced meat mixes here, but about a 50:50 mix of pure minced beef and pure minced pork. Here's one by Atria (you can choose between 300 g and 500 g), but all Estonian meat producers have this product in their portfolio:

I hadn't really given this much thought, but at a recent press event a local meat and BBQ guru, Enn Tobreluts claimed that this type of minced meat product is pretty untypical outside the Baltic region, and indeed, I don't think I ever came across it while living in Scotland. Of course, there are plenty of Estonian cooks who make meatballs - flat or round - with just beef or just pork or even just lamb, but a mix of beef and pork is most popular for making this humble dish. We even have a special name for this type of minced meat mix - kodune hakkliha aka domestic minced meat :)

What's your choice of meat for making meatballs? Can you get "domestic minced meat" at your country of residence? I'd love to hear your comments!

Estonian meatballs  
(Lihtsad hakk-kotletid)
Serves 4 to 6

Estonian meatballs. Hakk-kotletid, täitsa tavalised.

100 ml (about 7 even Tbsp) dry breadcrumbs
200 ml liquid (water, single cream, milk, sour cream)
1 onion, finely chopped
500 g minced meat (preferably a mixture of pork and beef, see above)
1 egg
1 tsp fine salt
0,5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix breadcrumbs and the chosen liquid in a mixing bowl and let stand for about five minutes.

If you don't like the harshness of raw onion, then sauté it gently in a bit of oil until translucent.

Fold the (fried) onion, the meat, egg and seasoning into the breadcrumb mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Using wet or oily hands, form the mixture into meatballs or patties. Fry in hot oil or batter on both sides for a few minutes, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.

PS I LOVE cold meatball, halved, on my rye bread, so these are also perfect for a lunch box!