Meat and Pumpkin Cutlets
October is the month of completion of harvesting and the end of the sunny half of the year. This is also the month when Halloween is celebrated, the pumpkin month. Like all Celtic holidays, it is closely associated with the forces of nature, with the balance of good and evil, and with the continuous cycle of life. The pumpkin used to be decorated for various rituals to celebrate harvest time.
Actually, it is one of the oldest fruits on the planet. Some experts say that the homeland of the pumpkin is America. But many centuries ago, travelers found it in the most unexpected places. Pumpkin is perhaps the only fruit that can be cultivated anywhere in the world. Well.. almost anywhere, I am not sure whether it can still bear fruits somewhere in Antarctica. We are used to the pumpkin being the main symbol of All Saints Day. In fact, the pumpkin entered the history of Halloween relatively recently, at the beginning of the 19th century. But as an attribute of the celebration for the first time, it was used in America.
From the botanical point of view, the pumpkin fruit is a berry, as it has a juicy pulp and many seeds. Generally, a lot of interesting things can be said about the pumpkin. In Asia, pumpkins are used for making various utensils, such as bottles, buckets, and spoons. Lightweight pumpkin vessels are braided with mesh there and served as convenient containers for storing water and oil when traveling. Large pumpkins are used as storage for grain and cereals. In rainy weather in Africa, travelers hide their clothes in a pumpkin. In the North of China, people cut the pumpkin in two and make scoops from the halves. They even made very sophisticated wind instruments out of pumpkins called sheng. A very unusual way to use pumpkin was found in India. They help to catch monkeys there. After drilling a small hole in a large pumpkin, some rice is placed inside of it. Sharp-eyed monkeys are extremely curious and greedy. When hunters are disappeared out of sight, the monkeys quickly get off the tree, rush to the pumpkins, and, noticing the hole, launch their paws into it. What’s in there? They grope for rice and take a handful of it. But the clenched fist no longer goes into the hole, and the monkey hobbles on three legs, dragging a large pumpkin behind. Even noticing people, the monkey does not open his fist, and the hunters can easily grab the greedy animal.
What different kinds of pumpkins we meet in nature! Round and flat, elongated, and guitar-shaped. Pumpkins are striking in their variety, and today we know more than fifty of them. Most often, there are yellow and orange ones, but it turns out that this is not the limit. Pumpkins may be white, beige, pink, and even blue. Though to call the shade of the last variety would be an overstatement, the peel of the vegetable has a grayish tint, and the pulp is gold, but nevertheless, this type of pumpkin, bred in 1932 in the USA, is considered as the rarest. The shape of this pumpkin is also unusual. The fruit seems to be pulled in the middle with a rope. As for the size, here, pumpkin can be recognized as one of the largest fruits because it can reach a weight of 250-300 kilograms. The pumpkin also holds the record in the opposite, with the smallest noted pumpkin weighing only 300 grams.
In an extreme situation, when the necessary drugs are not at hand, pumpkin pulp will replace a powerful anti-burn agent. Grated pulp has a beneficial effect on the skin, relieving inflammation around the damaged area. The pumpkin seed oil has also been considered a good substitute for pharmaceutical products. This fruit is incredibly rich in a variety of vitamins, which will help to keep the body toned. Pumpkin is delicious after all!
There are many ways to cook traditional pumpkin dishes. I want to tell all the chicken patty and burger lovers about something that is not so common. In Ukraine, cutlets are one of the most popular dishes. They are permanently included in the diet of most families and also became a part of our culture as the embodiment of home comfort, care, and simply quiet family happiness.
Yes, we call «cutlets» this minced meat dish. And every family has their own favorite recipe. I want to share with you my secret of delicious, juicy, and flavorful cutlets. All you need is to have at hand a fresh skinless chicken breast fillet, onion and… pumpkin! Put the pre-cut pumpkin pulp in a blender or food processor and chop it until you get almost a puree consistency. Then chop the onion into quite small fractions. Do the same with chicken breast fillet. You can grind it fine or stay with bigger pieces; it depends on your taste, both will work well. I don’t use eggs, but you may add them too. To add more flavor to the cutlets, you can use any spices of your choice – garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, sage, thyme, in other words, anything you like. Salt and pepper are a must.
But my secret for lush and juicy cutlets is in adding some crushed ice or mineral water to the minced meat. You can also add a slice of bread soaked in water or milk for several minutes. All you need is to create the right mince structure. Pieces of ice begin to melt during frying. Small voids formed in the mince are filled with steam and make the cutlet thicker and juicier. Pumpkin puree also improves the texture of the minced meat and prevents it from sticking. You can correct the structure by adding a bit of sour cream or mayonnaise to the mince. I prefer to pre-fry the onion until it becomes transparent and slightly golden in color.
Here is another tip. Just add a bit of water when frying onion, and you will never burn it to brown color. Toss the ingredients together and let them rest in a fridge at least for half an hour. Shape and coat the cutlets with breadcrumbs, wheat flour, or if you are like me, use cornflour because it burns less when frying. Try finer or coarser grind and find what suits you best. In any case, I assure you that you will not feel that specific pumpkin taste in your cutlets, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the result!