The Pozharsky cutlets have become a popular dish of the Russian cuisine at the beginning of the19th century. Their name and origin are attributed to prince Pozharsky, one of the noblemen of the time. Moscow’s crown prince was visiting, and Pozharsky’s favorite veal cutlets were to be served. But as ill luck would have it, no fresh veal was found in any of Pozharsky’s kitchens. To save the day, the prince ordered his chef to prepare the cutlets with chicken. The dish was so much to the liking of the crown prince, that he asked for its recipe. Since then, these chicken cutlets have spread through the kitchens of the nobility and later on they became popular among ordinary people.
Orest Kiprensky. Portrait of Alexander Pushkin. 1827
The Pozharsky’s cutlets have acquired most of their fame during Pushkin’s time, when the traveler had to take the stage coach in order to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Exactly half-way between the two cities there was a stop at small town named Torzhok, residence of the Pozharsky family. In one of his poems the great poet wrote:
"Have pit stop for a dinner,
At Pozharsky’s Torzhok
And taste some sizzling cutlets
To make your road light…"
When I attempted to make the Pozharsky cutlets for the first time, I was not really sure about the outcome. Oversized bread crumbs? Usually the crunchiness of cutlets is the result of finely ground breadcrumbs that guide you to the soft inside of a cutlet, but still, I started and to my surprise, my first bite was a journey from crunchy (the breadcrumbs outside) to soft, delicious, tasty, (inside) heavenly chickenly (my version of how chicken could taste like) but the biggest surprise was that mini chicken Kiev sensation with a dollop of butter that melted gorgeously inside and made the whole creation something I hasten to say, remarkable in its simplicity of preparation and everlasting good taste after having had it lusciously rolled around my taste buds..
- 1 1/2 lb. ground chicken
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 slices of white bread plus 5 more slices for breadcrumbs
- 1 big yellow onion
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp dried parsly
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- about 4-5 Tbsp. butter
In a medium bowl, place the slices of white bread and pour the heavy cream over them. Let it soak for a 10 minutes until they become soggy. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together ground chicken, dried parsley, salt and pepper.
Add the onion to the food processor. Chop well.
Mix the chopped onion, soggy bread with the ground chicken.
Add the eggs to the chicken mixture and mix very well.
To make a homemade breadcrumbs: Pre-heat your oven to 300F. Trim crusts from the rest of the white bread. Cut bread into small cubes and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until crumbs are a little dry, 15 minutes. Take them out and turn the oven to 350F, you will need to use the oven later.
Take a handful of chicken mix, make an oval-shaped cutlet with wet hands, put a small piece of butter (about 1/2 tablespoon) in the middle of cutlet, and close the cutlet using your hands. Adding the butter is necessary to get a juicy cutlet. Roll the cutlet in breadcrumbs, and fry with olive oil in a preheated skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side. When all the cutlets start turn golden brown color, place them in a preheated to 350F oven for about 10-15 minutes.
Serve one cutlet per serving, with roasted potatoes, pickled beans or other vegetables of your choice.