Mini Kabob's Pan-Seared Chicken Cutlets

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Chicken Cutlet from Mini Kabob
(Cody Long / Los Angeles Times)
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Armen Martirosyan is co-owner, along with his parents, Ovakim and Alvard, of Mini Kabob, which has been serving grilled beef and chicken skewers for more than 30 years from its tiny storefront in Glendale. Martirosyan makes these juicy chicken cutlets, or lula kebab, for his father with minced chicken and lamb or pork fat. The key to making the mixture for the cutlet is to “knead it a lot, until it becomes nice and bound together,” Martirosyan says. And when cooking, don’t use excessive heat; the cutlets should be golden-brown but not overcooked. “You don’t want it to golden-brown too much.” Serve it with basmati rice, onions mixed with sumac and parsley, roasted tomato and jalapeño, and hummus.

For the chicken cutlets, use lamb fat, pork fat or pork belly. Pork fat is available at some butchers and meat sections of grocery stores. You can grind the chicken thighs and fat (or pork belly) with a meat grinder. Make sure all equipment and meat are chilled; place the chicken, fat and garlic on the top tray of the grinder and grind. Or ask your butcher to grind for you. (Ground chicken thigh is available at some 99 Ranch, Super King, Nijiya and other select markets.)

One tip Martirosyan has for forming the cutlets: Think of the cartoon “Hey Arnold” and shape the meat into oblongs like Arnold’s head.

One other finishing touch we observed that Martirosyan was reluctant to divulge: A squirt of melted ghee on top of the seared cutlet adds an extra bit of lusciousness.


Mini Kabob's Pan-Seared Chicken Cutlets

Basmati Rice
Onions With Sumac
Chicken Cutlets

Make the rice: Put the rice in a pot or large pan and add enough water so that it covers the rice by about 1 inch. As soon as the water begins to boil, drain the water with a strainer, and wash the rice in cold running water to remove the starch. Put the washed rice back into the pot and add cold water 1 inch above the rice. Add the salt and oil. Give the rice one quick mix (do not mix again during cooking).

Cook the rice at a simmer over medium heat until the water is depleted, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a rice paddle.


Make the onions with sumac: Thinly slice the onion and finely chop the parsley. Put the onion and parsley in a bowl and mix evenly with the sumac until combined. Set aside until ready to serve.


Make the cutlets: Cut the onion into chunks and put it in the work bowl of a small food processor along with the garlic cloves. Pulse until everything is minced and combined. (Alternately, grind the onion through your meat grinder, if using, after grinding the meat with garlic.)


In a bowl, soak the white bread in the milk. Let sit for 15 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the chicken and pork belly and onion-garlic mixture, along with the salt and pepper, until the consistency is pasty and sticky.


Strain the bread from the milk, then mix the bread with chicken mixture. Add egg yolk and mix until pasty and sticky and thoroughly combined. Add the parsley and mix until combined. Shape into 5-inch ovals about 1⁄2-inch thick. This makes 11 cutlets.


Heat the oil in a pan until hot and shimmering. Pan-sear the chicken cutlets in batches until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate or platter. Clean out the pan as needed and add fresh oil between batches. Serve with basmati rice and onions with sumac.