Wednesday, February 26, 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!


Laura said...

In Latvia you can definitely get this type of mix. I think the name is very similar but I'm not sure (my "kotletes" usually consists of beef only).

Unknown said...

Hello there,

I've been reading your blog for a couple of years, but I think this is my first comment!!

I live in Leipzig in the eastern part of Germany and the 50-50 pork/beef mix is the standard for minced meat. Meatballs aka Bouletten are popular. It's also easy to get hold of pure pork and pure beef.

I do miss lamb mince that you can get in the UK.

Pille said...

Laura, I assumed they'd have the same mince-mix in Latvia. Thank you for the reassuring comment :)

BTW, What's the name of various minced meats in Latvian?

Anna - welcome to Nami-Nami - it's always great to meet a long-time reader! Lamb mince is difficult to get in Estonia, too, though not impossible. Interestingly, while "big" meat companies have began offering various lamb cuts, then I can think of only one small certified organic company that offers pre-packed lamb mince.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, kohe tuli isu. I remember eating leftover kotlett sandwiches as a child.
I recall my mother sometimes made kaste to go along with the kotlettid. Is that typical?

Pille said...

Arno, yes, a basic white sauce (jahukaste/Bechamel) would be quite typical :)

And boiled potatoes!

Laura said...

Well, ground beef is malta liellopa gaļa, ground pork - malta cūkgaļa. Mix of them both can be called mājas maltā gaļa (similar to your pictured version - domestic), sometimes even kotlešu masa (meat for meatballs). Ground turkey - malta tītara gaļa.
I can't say we have a huge choice - ground turkey or lamb has to be specifically searched for.

Pille said...

Love the sound of those names, Laura! Ground turkey - both ground turkey breast and ground turkey thigh - are rather widely available, thanks to Rannamõisa!

But, yes, lamb, only one brand.

MaMalena said...

Hi! I am swedish whith an estonian mother. I love your blogs, both this one and the estonian. In Sweden we also have this product. It's called "blandfärs" blended minced meat. /Malena

Laura said...

Pille, lately ground turkey is more available in Latvia too, but usually in really big supermarkets or special shops for poultry. I haven't seen both kinds here (breasts or thighs), usually it is written plain and simple - ground turkey. So Estonia is ahead of us :)
I was also wondering can you easily access things like panko bread crumbs, almond meal, real vanilla extract in Estonia? For example, in Riga I need to take a special trip to 1 - 2 stores that sell things like these.

Emma B said...

Here in Canada, I believe it's illegal to sell mixed meats. Fortunately, most supermarkets carry a good variety of ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, turkey, and chicken are all common; plus halal versions where possible), so I usually blend my own.

Unknown said...

Hello again,

Just to be clear, I'm not totally obsessed by meatballs :)) but I found this webpage by coincidence this week:

You can tell which part of Germany someone comes from depending on what they call meatballs :) And there are a lot of different ways!

Pille said...

How lovely to "meet" you, Malena! And thanks for the Swedish blandfärs!

Laura - I don't think that ground turkey is available in many small shops, but you'd probably find it everywhere where Rannamõisa stocks their goods. Panko breadcrumbs can be found from few specialty stores, vanilla extract from most organic shops, but supermarkets and Marks & Spencer. Things have got better here over the years, but it's still far from being foodies' heaven :D

Emma B - how interesting to hear it's illegal! I wonder why? Re: halal versions - never encountered them anywhere in Estonia, though some whole sale markets can stock them. Need to find out..

Anna Ward - that's fun, will check all those regional differences out!

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All of the food looks delicious i hope i can taste it 1 by 1.

MaMalena said...

A year ago I mentioned your blog in my blog. I don't know if you can understand swedish, but the recipe I have written about is the estonian cucumber and sourcreme salad. My grandmother always used to make this salad.

Philippines Food said...

Its sound delicious thanks for sharing..
I am a non vegi.. I was serching this kind of food thanks for sharing..

Kent Auto Repair Premier Automotive Services said...

when i saw the picture I felt kinda hungry, thanks for sharing the recipe I might try this one.

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meatballs, yummy, I've tried meatballs soup, have you tried it?