Mom’s Pork Meatballs (Kotlety) are one of the fluffiest meat patties! Ground pork, soaked bread, grated onion, and potato make for incredible Ukrainian Meatballs, that you have yet to try!
Russians and Ukrainians love pork! Pigs were one of those farm animals easy to maintain and cured bacon (Calo) was such a cheap way to get you through a day of working hard in the field. One of our favorite pork dinners is these Baby Potatoes with Pork and Russian Pork Gravy Recipe over mashed potatoes!
Russian Pork Meatballs
I love making my mother-in-law’s Kotlety and our children sure enjoy grandma’s pork meatballs too! If you haven’t noticed, Ukrainian and Russian meat patties are shaped oval rather than round Italian meatballs. Oval meatballs are bigger and juicy considering they’d be served as the main dish with a side of mashed potatoes. I remember how Sunday’s lunch (more like dinner from all the food) were these plump meatballs at grandma’s house served with a bunch of delicious sides! My mother-in-law would prepare these Saturday evening, stack them into a huge pan, then bake them with water in the morning for super fluffy pork meatballs!
Then Sunday after church mom would take them warm out of the oven and it was time to enjoy these ground pork patties! This recipe is pretty simple and if you wanted to see how to make Pork Meatballs step-by-step of the way like mom’s, she has a blog too where she shows how it’s made straight from her kitchen. It is my go-to meatball recipe for so many reasons, that I wanted it to be in my collection of recipes here at Alyona’s Cooking!
Grandma’s Secret to Fluffy Kotlety (Pork Meatballs):
The ingredients for these Kotlety are commonly seen in many Russian Meatball Recipes, however, there are a few secrets to making fluffy meat patties like Moms! My mother-in-law grates a potato into her pork mixture, ironic but much needed! She also uses fluffy white bread like the dollar french bread baguettes from Walmart or a pack of hamburger or hot dog buns! Believe me, it makes a difference! White bread is sweeter and more flavorful. In fact, many recipes call for bread crumbs (which are also made from white bread) so use white sandwich bread if you need to but it’s the real game-changer. Once the bread soaks in milk it will bind the meat mixture and the pack of so-called buns will shrink drastically in size.
What is Kotlety?
Kotlety (aka Mom’s Russian Hamburgers) are fried meat cutlets made with ground meat such as pork. They are widely known throughout Eastern Europe and go by different pronunciations such as, “Kotleti (Russian), Kotlety (Polish), and Katleti” (Ukrainian). Each Grandmother made it differently as recipes vary.
Whether you use ground beef, crackers instead of bread, or a bread crumb breading they are all similar in one way as most recipes call for fresh garlic and grated onion, which gives these their signature taste.
Enjoy Kotlety hot or cold and simply serve as a meatball on top of a slice of rye bread dipped in ketchup or mustard!
Can I Use Other Meat?
I was a beef person but now I love to make Kotlety like mom (who uses pork.) It doesn’t have a high-fat content like beef can be and is a cheaper cut of meat. As a result, pork meat tends to be mild and isn’t overpowering in taste. I like to buy a slab of pork butt or Pork loin and grind it myself. Pork can range anywhere from $1.65 lb and up which is far cheaper than beef which starts at around $3 a pound and up.
To not compromise on taste mix half beef and pork if wishing to use another cut of meat. As far as substituting for pork completely, that can change the overall flavor, which I don’t recommend.
How long to Cook Pork Meatballs?
Although I prefer to bake Pork meatballs after they’ve been fried, Pork Meatballs can be fried to doneness when cooked thoroughly on the stovetop. However, I like to sear them on the stovetop in oil (like mom) then layer them into a baking pan and finish cooking them in the oven. This steams the pork patties as if they were baked in a sauce!
To cook pork meatballs in the oven: layer meatballs into a 13×9 baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the meatballs and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 360°F for 30-45 minutes.
Round or Oval?
I like these fried meat patties oval. Whether you make round or oval-shaped patties, you want to make them larger for juicy meatballs. Since these are the main dish to a meal, (hence the bigger oval shape) you want them to as your masterpiece, not a meatball tossed in spaghetti. Some people shape them round but others find it easier to slap the meat mixture diagonally across their hand to create an oval meatball. The fact of the matter is making the patty equivalent to 1/4 cup in size for juicier meatballs. Smaller pork patties can dry out quicker.
What To Serve With Pork Meatballs?
Pork Meatballs (Kotlety) make for a hearty main dish. I can imagine how well a fresh garden salad or a side of mashed potatoes can be paired with this hearty meat dish! Here are some ideas to make your dinner complete:
Can I dredge these in Flour or Breadcrumbs?
I love the glistening crust these Kotlety make, without the bread crumbs or flour. However, my mother-in-law has made these dipped into flour before. I don’t see the need to go through the extra step of dredging each meat patty into a breading. They are delicious regardless, but if you which to have extra flavor or texture dip into crushed crackers, breadcrumbs, or flour.
Tips for Fluffy Meatballs (Kotlety):
- Soak fluffy white bread in milk.
- Grate one medium potato into the pork mixture.
- Eggs work as a binding ingredient and make for fluffier meatballs.
- Bake with water after frying. The meatballs will steam and fluff up!
More Russian Recipes:
- Ritz Cracker Kotlety
- Chebureki Dough Recipe (Meat Turnovers)
- Pelmeni (Meat Dumplings)
- How To Make Lox (Cured Salmon)
- How To Make Sauerkraut
- Moist Wheat Bread Recipe
How To Make Pork Meatballs (Kotlety):
Moms Pork Meatballs (Kotlety)
- 13x9 baking pan
- 12-inch frying pan
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 14 oz white bread (used 8pk of hot dog buns)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 medium onion (finely grated)
- 1 medium potato (finely grated)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 TBSP salt
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
How To Make Pork Meatballs (Kotlety):
- Soak the bread in 1 cup of milk and mash. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Form patties using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop. Fry each meatball for 2-3 min or until lightly browned.
- Stack into a baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the meatballs and bake in 360°F for 30-45 minutes.
- To finely grate the onion and potato: use the side of a box grater that has round tiny stars.
- Bread: Mom uses a French Bread Baguette or Hamburger/Hot dog buns.
- To Make Ahead: Fry and stack meatballs in a baking pan. Cover and refrigerate. Pour hot water over the meatballs before baking. Bake 45-55 min.