Every week I make one recipe from Latviešu ēdieni.
I handed the well-worn copy of Latviešu ēdieni to my husband.
“Here, you pick something out this time,” I said. I’d just flipped through it and couldn’t decide on anything, so I foisted it off like any good wife onto my husband.
“Hmmm, this sounds good. Let’s have pildīta karbonāde!”
I looked at him, baffled. I knew karbonāde, of course, the ubiquitous Latvian dish that might as well be the Latvian national dish. Latvians seem to eat karbonāde the way Americans eat burgers. Don’t get me wrong, however, karbonāde is delicious and one of the things I love about the cuisine.
Most commonly made from pork, karbonāde describes both a cut (“pork chop”) and a dish. A basic karbonāde goes as follows: Pound a flat piece of pork, not too lean, not too fatty, until it’s about the size of a salad plate*. Thin. Really thin. Season it with some salt and pepper. Now dredge it in flour, then a beaten egg. Fry that puppy up over medium-high heat until everything’s golden brown and delicious and you have karbonāde.
But pildīta? That was a word I didn’t know. It turns out it means “filled” or “stuffed”. I’m also convinced that it means “tasty”**. I’ve written this for chicken or pork, but I suppose you could use just about anything you could get flat enough. It’ll be tasty either way.
* Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. Half a salad plate. Unless you’re at Doka Pica in Liepāja where it’s the size of a salad plate. Damn good too — it’s what they’re known for. (Pizza there is also good, but if you’re only there once, get the karbonāde.)
** It doesn’t. That’s garšīga, when referring to karbonāde.
Pildīta karbonāde — Stuffed Cutlets [printable recipe]
Adapted from Latviešu ēdieni
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half to make two large thin cutlets, pounded thin OR 1 boneless pork chop, cut and made thin the same way
- 1 egg * (see note), beaten
- 2 tbsp or so flour
- 2 tbsp or so bread crumbs (seasoned with a bit of thyme and oregano)
- 1/2 hard-boiled egg, finely minced
- 1/2 tbsp butter, cut in half
- 2 tbsp (about 20g) cheese, any kind, shredded or whole,
- dash of Tabasco or cayenne (optional)
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F. If using a toaster oven, begin preheating to 350F when the meat goes in the pan to brown.
Season chicken breasts or pork chops with salt and pepper. On one half of the cutlet, mound 1/4 of the hard-boiled egg, 1 tbsp cheese and 1/4 tbsp butter, as well as a dash of Tabasco or cayenne if using.
Fold over cutlet to make a packet. Dredge packets in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, making sure to keep the packet sealed as best you can.
In a medium saute pan over moderate heat, cook the packets, turning once, until beginning to brown. Remove to a small oven-safe, foil-lined pan. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until fully cooked through.
- This is an excellent way to use up that leftover egg yolk or white from another recipe. The original recipe called for 2/5ths of an egg for 2 servings. 2/5ths! How the hell am I supposed to measure that?