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Russian Mushroom Cutlets

The Russians make about a thousand (my estimate!) versions of cutlets; things chopped up, formed into patties and fried in a skillet. Most of them are variations on the theme of meat, but these mushroom cutlets are a happy exception. Serve them with potato pierogies (or pelmeni, if we are staying strictly Russian), sautéed cabbage and sour cream for complete meal, or make them smaller and serve them as an appetizer or first course. These may not be meat, but they are pretty rich so keep that in mind.

Most of the recipes I saw called for boiling the mushrooms and chopping them almost to a purée, but I kept in mind that most of the recipes were probably assuming an assortment of wild-foraged mushrooms. By all means, try to use several different kinds if you can – you want about 4 cups mushrooms in coarse pieces before you start slicing and chopping. I, however, assumed the use of domesticated mushrooms, which I expect to be considerably softer in texture, for the most part.

I was also of two minds whether to call for just one egg, or two. I used just one and had a little trouble getting the patties to stick together – although they did well enough in the end – and I was definitely running out egg white as I dipped the last cutlet. I think next time I would try it with two and see how it goes – I suspect the worst that will happen will be that I have a small amount of leftover egg white. 

6 to 8 cutlets
2 to 8 servings
45 minutes prep time, plus cooling and chilling times

Russian Mushroom Cutlets

Make the Mixture:
100 grams (scant 1/4 pound) fresh shiitake mushrooms
150 grams (5 or 6 ounces) fresh button mushrooms
1 small (100 grams; scant 1/4 pound) potato
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed savory or thyme
1 or 2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon flour

Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard them… the stems, of course. Chop the roughly… the caps, of course. Clean, trim, and slice the button mushrooms. Wash and trim the potato, and grate it coarsely. Peel and slice the onion.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the prepared vegetables, and cook, stirring regularly, until wilted down and browned in spots.

Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic. When the mushrooms and all are well softened, add the garlic and seasonings. Mix in well and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for about 5 minutes then transfer the mixture to a food processor.

Add the egg yolk and flour to the mixture, and process until fairly finely chopped. Stop and scrape down the sides a couple of times. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover well, and refrigerate until you wish to proceed… anywhere from half an hour to 8 hours.

Form & Fry the Cutlets:
2 tablespoons flour
1 or 2  large egg whites
6 to 8 crackers, crushed to crumbs
3 to 4 tablespoons of mild vegetable oil to fry
sour cream ad lib

Put the flour on a small plate, the egg white on another small plate, and the crackers crushed to crumbs on yet another bloody small plate, and line them up in the order given. Mark out the prepared mixture into 6 or 8 even portions and flour your hands.

Scoop out the first portion and press it into a firm ball, insofar as such a thing is possible. Gently roll it in the flour, then the egg white. Finally roll it in the crumbs until evenly coated. Press gently to flatten into a patty and lay it on a plate. Continue forming the cutlets until they are all done and on the plate.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer the patties to the pan with a lifter and fry gently on each side until well browned; about 3 minutes per side. Serve with sour cream.

Last year at this time I made Coffee Brownies

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