Two months ago our Israeli friends came to town for a family wedding. Whenever Hagai, Limor, Karin and Lidan come to visit, it’s like a whirlwind passes through our home. They light up our world with the energy of their home country and an unquenchable enthusiasm for life. On this most recent visit, they shared a recipe for Polish Chicken Patties (ktzitzot) handed down from Hagai’s side of the family. It all started with a man named Moshe and a woman named Tola.
Hagai’s father, Moshe Stroweiss, was born in Łódź, Poland in 1912. During the war Moshe and his whole family ended up in the Nazi concentration camps; Moshe was imprisoned in Auschwitz. He survived and was liberated in 1945. Moshe spent 3 years traveling through Europe trying to locate his relatives. He eventually realized that he was likely the only survivor of his family. In 1948, he left Europe and made his home in Israel.
This is where Moshe’s life story takes a happier turn. In Israel he met a young woman named Tola Sohachevsky. Tola was born in Łódź, Poland in 1914. In 1932 she moved to Israel with her family and became a nurse with the British army. After the war Tola met Moshe. The two fell in love, and Tola Sohachevsky became Tola Stroweiss. The couple started a family together and eventually had children, one of them being our friend Hagai.
Hagai and Limor
We’ve known Hagai and his ex-wife Limor for many years. Yes, you read that right, ex-wife. Hagai and Limor remained good friends after their divorce (in fact, they both agree they make much better friends than spouses!). Together they have two children, Karin and Lidan. We consider them all an Israeli extension of our family, and we love them dearly. Karin and Lidan call me their “Doda” (the Hebrew word for Auntie).
Limor making sauce for the ktzizot
On their last visit, I asked Limor to teach me one of the Polish recipes handed down to her by Hagai’s mother, Tola, who passed away not long ago. She immediately decided on one of their family favorites, a comforting dish she calls Polish Chicken Patties– in Hebrew they are known as ktzitzot (the Hebrew word for little meat patties). Her son Lidan was eager to help. Lidan is currently serving in the Israeli army, but was able to take a short leave for the wedding. I was so happy to have him with us, especially in the kitchen. Lidan loves to cook! We tease him that maybe he’ll follow in my footsteps someday. I’m sure he’ll go on to much greater things.
Lidan loves to cook. That’s our little maltese Momo in the background. He’s really hoping that Lidan will “accidentally” drop a meatball…
Limor and Lidan walked us through the whole process of this simple Polish recipe. These yummy, garlicky chicken patties can be fried or cooked in sauce, or both. Frying them will brown the surface and add more flavor. If you’re trying to save on calories you can cook the patties directly in the sauce (we tried it with a couple of test patties and it worked), but Limor recommends frying first for a more authentic flavor. If you fry them you can also serve them separately from the sauce.
Limor recommends that the vegetables be shredded or hand grated very fine. She used an Israeli meatball spice blend in the patties. Since many of you don’t have access to kosher markets or Israeli spices, I have replicated the flavor of the blend with easy-to-find spices below. I added a bit more spice than Limor did to enhance the flavor; if you prefer, you can use an Israeli meatball spice blend and adjust the amount to taste (start with 1 tbsp of spice blend and add more if needed). We used breadcrumbs for the patties, but matzo meal could easily be subbed to make this recipe kosher for Passover. I’ve simplified things a bit by using one pan for both the sauce and the meatballs. I really loathe doing dishes, so I’m always looking to cut down the amount of dirty pots and pans. If you want to get it done faster, feel free to use two pans to cook the patties and the sauce simultaneously.
Don’t you just love this picture? This is one happy kitchen! It’s a memory and a recipe I will always cherish. I’m excited to share it with you. Thank you Limor, Hagai, Lidan, and Karin. Also we musn’t forget to thank Tola Stroweiss, of blessed memory, who handed down this recipe all the way from Łódź, Poland!
What do you think of Polish food? Are you a fan?
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Chicken Patty Ingredients
- 1 lb ground chicken (I prefer dark meat)
- 1 lb ground turkey (85% lean)
- 1 small carrot, grated fine
- 1 small zucchini, grated fine
- 1 small onion, grated or minced very fine
- 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (or more if needed) (for Passover use matzo meal)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 4 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more if needed)
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- 2 medium carrots, shredded fine
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
- Trim zucchini, peel carrots and onion. Grate the vegetables with a hand grater or food processor with shredding disc attachment with fine holes. I suggest using a food processor, you can hand grate if you prefer. You can mince the onion rather than grate if you prefer, as long as you mince it very fine.
- In a mixing bowl, combine grated zucchini, carrots and onion.
- Add breadcrumbs, beaten egg and spices. Stir until combined.
- Add ground chicken and turkey. Mix well until thoroughly combined.Form the mixture into patties with 1/4 cup of meat mixture each. The mixture is slightly sticky; I like to spray my hands with a little cooking oil spray or water before forming the patties. If the mixture is extremely soft or sticky and you're having trouble forming the patties, add more breadcrumbs till the patties are moldable (they should be soft and tacky but still moldable).
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a sauté pan with high sides and a lid over medium heat. Fry patties in the oil, 6 - 7 at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the patties for 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes total). When finished cooking, remove and set aside. Continue till all the patties are cooked and browned, adding more olive oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
- To make sauce, add shredded carrot, minced onion, salt, pepper and paprika to the same pan you used to fry the patties. Add more oil if needed. Scrape any brown bits up from the bottom of the pan as you cook.
- Cook until onions are soft and translucent, then add stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrot shreds are very tender and the sauce is orange. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Add the fried patties to the sauce, cover and cook for 20 additional minutes. If adding peas, throw them into the sauce 5 minutes before the end of cooking till heated through. Serve patties warm in carrot sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.