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Polish Meatballs, or as they are known n in Poland – “Kotlety Mielone,” are one of the most popular dishes in Poland and loved by everyone (especially kids). They are usually made with ground pork, but other ground meats can be used as well.
What’s so special about Kotlety Mielone?
Presumably one could ask that question…after all, they’re like hamburgers, right? The answer I’d give is a definitive: yes and no and/or maybe, “it depends” (apologies, that non-committal habit is the lawyer in me).
Admittedly, Polish meatballs are similar to hamburgers, in that they’re patties made from ground meat. Because of that, I’ve actually heard that some people refer to them as ‘Polish Hamburgers.’
However, they do differ – and not insignificantly. First, traditionally they are made from pork and not beef, which gives them their specific taste and texture. Then their meat is seasoned in a similar way to Italian meatballs…which I’ll show you below.
In fact, in my opinion, Polish meatballs are way more similar to Italian meatballs than American hamburgers. But, why are they so special? Because they are crispy on the outside, soft and super flavorful on the inside, and can be eaten hot for dinner, or cold on a sandwich. Either way, they just simply melt in your mouth, despite being served sauce-free. Kotlety just speak for themselves. Testimonial: my 8-year-old can’t get enough of them….
Here’s what you will need to make Polish Meatballs
Meat: traditionally they are made with ground pork (probably because it was easily accessible), however, you can make them with beef, veal, or a combination of the three, or even with ground turkey
Bread: you’ll need stale bread or rolls (I like to use kaiser rolls) that you’ll soak in milk – this technique produces super moist meatballs
Milk: you need this for soaking the bread, as I mentioned above
Eggs: they will bind your meatballs beautifully
Aromatics: you’ll need onions (fresh, chopped, or fried), and optionally, parsley (I personally love it as it adds an extra layer of flavor)
Seasonings: salt and pepper is a must, but you may add other spices like powder garlic, dry onions, dry mustard, or Maggie (a liquid seasoning popular in Europe; similar to a soy sauce)
Bread crumbs: you’ll need it to coat your meatballs in it before frying; this helps create their signature crispy outer layer
Oil for frying: use any non-fragrant cooking oil like canola
Making the meatballs is super easy
Here is just an overview to give you an understanding of how to make these kotlety but scroll down to the printable recipe card for exact instructions:
1. First you need to soak your bread. Just break it into pieces and cover them with milk. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes.
2. If you want to use fried onions now would be the time to make them: just add a tablespoon of oil to the frying pan, add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
3. Chop the parsley.
4. Get all your ingredients into a big bowl: meat, onions, squeezed-out bread (use gloves and squeeze the extra milk out of your soaked bread), parsley, eggs, and seasoning.
5. Mix it gently to make sure not to overdo it.
6. Form oval patties and flatten them down (if they’re not too thick you’ll be able to just fry them up on a pan, but if they are thicker you may need to finish them up in the oven to ensure that they are fully cooked)
7. Cover the patties with the breadcrumbs.
8. Heat up some oil in the frying pan and add the meatballs into the pan. Do not overcrowd them. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side. You may check one, cut it and see if they require additional time in the oven (for that I would use 350F over for about 10-15 minutes).
9. Repeat with the remaining meatballs and enjoy.
Serving the meatballs the Polish way
The Polish way of eating meat usually involves potatoes. So, these super tasty Kotlety would normally be served with mashed potatoes (like my Brown Butter Dill Mashed Potatoes) and some kind of veggie salad on a side (like cucumber salad, cabbage salad, or beet salad).
But any kind of potatoes would work. I would strongly suggest these Parsley Potatoes as they are out of this world delicious, and pair nicely.
I usually eat mine with Mizeria (the cucumber salad). If you’re not up for a cucumber salad then maybe the Carrot Salad would work better for you. If you are a coleslaw fan, that would definitively work as well.
But don’t forget that meat and potatoes with the side of salad are a second course on the Polish dinner menu. Soup always comes first. Here are a couple of my go-to soup suggestions:
- Rosol (Polish Chicken Soup)
- To die for Dill Pickle Soup
- Creamy Mushroom Soup or Chunky Mushroom Soup
- Cabbage Soup
- Beets Soup
I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe. Please see below the printable recipe card.
Polish Meatballs (aka Kotlety Mielone)
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 1 onion medium size, yellow or Vidallia
- 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 rolls* (see notes) dry
- 2 cups milk cows, any type
- 2 tbsp plain breadcrumbs for the meat texture
- 0.5 cup plain breadcrumbs for coating
- 1.5 to 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 0.5 teaspoon black Pepper
- 0.5 teaspoon paprika sweet
- 0.5 teaspoon garlic powder
- cooking oil for frying
- Place your rolls or bread in a bowl, cover with milk and let soak for 10-15 minutes
- Chop your onions into small squares
- In a frying pan, heat up about two tablespoons of cooking oil, add the onions and sautee them until tralucent for about 5 minutes, then let them cool off
- Finely chopp your parsley
- Place your meat in a large bowl, add eggs, parsley, two tablespoons of breadcrumbs, and seasoning
- Add fried and cooled onions to the bowl with the meat
- Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add to the bowl with the meat
- Gently mix everything together making sure to not overdo it
- Place breadcrumbs on a plate
- Form oval patties from the meat and gently flatten them
- Cover the meatballs with the breadcrumbs and they are ready for frying
- Heat up your oven to 350F in case your meatballs will need to finish cooking
- In a skillet heat up about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once hot add a few meatball patties. Do not overcrowd them.
- Cook meatballs for 5 minutes per side. Test one and if not cooked through, place them on a sheet pan and put in the oven for 10 -15 minutes
- Repeat with the remaining meatballs until all are cooked
- Serve with potatoes and salad (see post above for serving suggestions)