Last week, I recalled the childhood story of Stone Soup, which MiMi remembers as Nail Soup. I have since discovered that it is also known as Axe Soup in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. This week, childhood nostalgia also took me to Eastern Europe. Chicken Kiev, may have originated in Moscow in the early 1900s but takes its name from the capital city of Ukraine. It was popularised in Britain in the late 1970s by Marks and Spencer as what they called a 'recipe dish', or a 'ready meal' in other words. By the 1980s, it was a dinner party favourite.
The first thing you will need to do for this dish is make a compound butter. "Beurre composé," by its French culinary term in Larousse, is just butter with other ingredients mixed through it; garlic, lemon and parsley in this case, but you can make Asian compound butters with chilli and spices. You might as well take a whole pack of butter, since you can freeze it and use it for other dishes. Soften the butter in a bowl. You can use a microwave on a low setting but don't melt it as the ingredients will sink to the bottom if it is not still semi-solid. Peel 3 or 4 garlic cloves and mince them finely with a knife or use a garlic press. Fold the garlic into the softened butter, along with the zest of a lemon and a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley (or coriander, if you prefer). Spoon the compound butter back into the packet or onto some foil and roll it into a log. Put it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Garlic compound butter
1x 250g pack of salted butter
4 cloves of garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Large handful of flat leaf parsley (2 tbsp once chopped)
Once the compound butter has set hard, preheat the oven to 180 Celsius and start making the Chicken Kiev. Take 2 chicken breasts and trim off the mini-fillets and any rough edges. Set these aside to make chicken burgers for the children. There are two approaches to filling the chicken breast with the compound butter. I went for the incision approach. Take a sharp, but narrow bladed knife and insert it into the middle of the chicken breast. Swivel it a little to form a pocket but be careful not to go through the fillet. Slice the frozen compound butter into shards and stuff them into the pocket. When you make the incisions, try and make them so that they face upwards when you place the chicken fillet on a baking tray. This way, when the garlic butter melts, it will have a more difficult job leaking out.
|Make an incision but go in from a higher angle than this|
The alternative method is to butterfly the chicken breast first and flatten it. The advantage of this method is that the finished cutlet will cook more evenly. The disadvantage is that it is a little more work and breading it may be more fiddly. Furthermore, if you don't have a meat mallet, you may have to use a saucepan.
|Jay using his initiative. If you don't have a meat mallet, improvise.|
If you go for the flattened approach, you will have to fold the chicken breast carefully around the frozen butter. Next, set up a pané station (pané is French for breaded).
|Breadcrumbs, seasoned flour, egg|
Chicken Kiev ingredients
1 chicken breast per portion
Garlic compound butter, above
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 tbsp of breadcrumbs (make your own in a food processor or buy ready made)
Dip the chicken in the flour first, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. If you want thicker crust, repeat the "egg-flour" stage. The chicken breast on the right has an unfortunate bald patch - this is where I was holding it with my thumb.
Shallow fry the chicken breast in vegetable oil on both sides, then transfer to a baking tray. Use one with sides, in case the butter melts and makes a mess in the oven. Bake in the oven at 180 Celsius for about 15 minutes. By then the butter will be molten, but basting the chicken from the inside to keep it from being dry. Personally, to complete the nostalgia effect, I would serve it with fries; potato wants to soak up the garlicky juices but retains its crispness. However, on this occasion, I served it with lentils and cabbage, both of which I wanted to use up. I simmered the lentils in chicken stock for about 15 minutes, while the Kiev was in the oven, then added shredded cabbage for the last couple of minutes.