Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baked Beef Cutlets


I've explained what a cutlet means here. So, on reading, you will pretty much get that the flattened chicken dish habitually known by the same name is not today's cutlet. Instead, this one is of radically different nature, a most delightful short eat, and one that screams 'I AM the real deal!'.


Being a teatime or anytime staple in Kerala, these breadcrumb enveloped goodies can be filled with almost any ingredient of choice - ground lamb, chicken, seafood and so on. But beef by far plays star to the lot.

In other words, meat cutlets are the absolute All. 

They are a premier feature at many small time hotels and bake shops, usually one of the the best items they serve, some better than others.

Spanning back to a time so far from today, I recall being culprit to jetting out of a women's dorm highly enamored by the thought of a clandestine meeting. With whom you may ask? With them, I answer. By them I mean the couple dozen meat cutlets I'd buy each time on breaking out of  prison hostel gates. You see, we were always on the strictest curfew, and would only be "let out" at certain times; where most spent those precious moments eating to their heart's content. My not-so-secret fixation was set upon Bestotel's beef cutlet. Past beyond recovery, my plight would be to down those countless, delicious, but very fried meat packets. Severe sour stomach would claim the rest of my night and much the following day. This, in no way would harness my love, nor dissuade the planning for the next cutlet rendezvous.

So, with the notorious history to back, friends, please know I take my own cutlet- making pretty seriously.

Aromatically permeated stew meat happens when I throw in most of the ingredients in a pot to cook on in slow, but sure fashion. A few whirs in the processor chunkily combines the meat form, while a final saute and mix of potatoes pull it together to make an absolute best filling. The awesome future core then gets dutifully wrapped in a hearty substantial crumb. Unbelievable you may say, once the final product comes out of the oven, only to be pegged straight into the depths of your mouth.

You can thank me later.

This recipe makes for twenty, and with small hands, possibly twenty four awesome and very tender meat cutlets. Before you finish the one, your arm will instinctively reach down for another, and another and another...

So goes the life of the closeted cutlet fiend.
Though usually, cutlets are fried, I prefer baking these. Not only does it cut way back on fat, the oven variety have a lighter texture, leaving you free to try two, maybe three, possibly four additional for a satisfying fill.

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium cooked potatoes (boiled, drained of moisture)
  • ½ inch ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves  garlic
  • 2-3 serrano peppers
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1 ½ lb stew meat or beef cut into chunks
  • 2 or more tsp salt
  • ½ c water
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, chopped 
  • ½ medium onion,  finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp black pepper 
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • breadcrumbs processed from 4 slices of bread(of choice)
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
Method:
  • Mash the cooked potatoes and keep aside.
  • In a heavy set pan/dutch oven, put in ginger, garlic, peppers, turmeric, meat and enough salt to season the meat. Pour in the water. Stir well.
  • On high heat, have ingredients come to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered until meat is tender and all the water is absorbed (The meat will render some liquid as well, so the amount of water should be enough, if needed, add more, until meat becomes fork-tender.)
  • Take meat mixture off heat. Set aside to slightly cool.
  • Stir mixture well to combine ingredients and use a food processor to process the meat blend. Do this step in parts, using a third of the mixture, so all ingredients are ground, yet, slightly chunky. You have gone too far if you have meat paste in the bowl.
  • In same pan, on medium heat, pour in oil and add onions and curry leaves.
  • Allow the onions to cook till translucent and light brown.
  • Add in the ground meat mixture, potatoes, pepper and garam masala. Stir all the ingredients to combine.
  • Take off heat. Allow to cool.
  • Roll mixture into golf ball size rounds, flatten into an oval, square or desired shape. 
  • Set shaped mixture onto baking sheet(s).
  • Have an assembly station ready with the shaped meat, along with wide mouth dishes to hold the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Coat 2 9X5 baking trays with cooking spray.
  • Start by carefully taking the shaped meat mixture and with one hand dip it into the egg to cover both sides and then dip into the breadcrumbs to thoroughly coat.Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Repeat until finished with the meat mixture. 
  • Spray tops of cutlets with a final coat of nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bake in oven for 18 minutes when edges are crisp and tops are golden brown. Rotate baking trays halfway through. 
  • Take out and serve warm. 
Notes: 
~If short on time, use ground beef, you won't need to cook it as long, not as good but still a pleasant standby.
~All meat is not created equal. The stew I purchase takes all of twenty minutes to cook through and become tender. Yours might take longer, so check cook time accordingly.
~Alternatively, you could pressure cook the meat ingredients for 8-10 whistles, or until done.
~I never boil the potatoes, just place in microwave and use the steam option, they turn out just right.
~Make your own breadcrumbs by just zapping a few slices of day old bread (please not molded:)) in the food processor. Multigrain add good crunch and flavor, but feel free to use store-bought, Panko being a good choice.
~The prepared cutlets keep well (to bake at a later time) in an airtight container between layers of parchment or foil in the freezer.
Ketchup is the traditional accompaniment, though an onion salad works way better. Onions sliced in rounds are served on side with green chilis (serranos), a dousing of vinegar and a dash of salt.

******
Be intentional and put your best face forward, everyday, always~

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

12 comments:

  1. OMGosh my mouth is watering. I have to try these as soon as the weather cools down, can't heat up the apt., no A/C :-(

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    Replies
    1. Thanks- yes it's great for those cool weather months... nice warm cutlet paired with hot hot tea:)

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  2. These baked cutlets look droolworthy!

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  3. Haha I like that 'you can thank me later' :D
    My brother and dad most certainly will be believe you me my friend :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Uru and your welcome or perhaps that should be for Dad and brother:))

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  4. Yum!

    I'm hosting a giveaway - would love for you to enter!

    http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com/2012/08/cheribundi-tart-cherry-juice-review.html

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  5. Replies
    1. Julie, I should be saying that after going through your pages :))

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  6. have been missing reading up! you have lined up some great recipes to drool over! :) Baked beef cutlets yummmm they look picture perfect!

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    Replies
    1. So sweet of you, blogging buddy- thank you much for the encouragement.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!