I promised earlier in the year to start posting some recipes from my “retro” Russian cookbook, the “Kulinaria.” I decided to start with arguably one of the most recognizable Russian recipes – chicken Kiev. Sources differ on whether or not this recipe is actually of Russian origin, seeing as it is named after the capital city of Ukraine. The cookbook does not go into chicken Kiev’s history. Nor does it present any herbed, flavored, fancy version of this classic. It is quite simple – chicken, stuffed with butter, breaded and fried. A diet food this is NOT. But delicious, it most definitely IS. This yielded the most tender, juicy, flavorful chicken I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. I wish I could capture the melted butter dripping out of the chicken breast as I cut into it – it was a sight to behold.
The ingredients to chicken Kiev are simple. You will need:
2 whole chicken breasts (the recipe uses bone-in, then de-bones them – but that could be because boneless breasts simply were not commercially available in 1960s’ USSR. Heck, from my recollection it was hard to find a chicken that didn’t still have feathers on it. Or a fish that wasn’t whole.)
1 egg – beaten
2 hunks of salted butter about as large as a finger, or you can comfortably wrap inside the tenderized breast.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs – I prefer panko
1 teaspoon garlic salt – you can use regular, but I like the extra flavor.
1/3 cup olive oil
The preparation is a different story. I won’t lie and say it’s not challenging to tenderize a whole chicken breast thin enough to hermetically seal a hunk of butter so as not to lose a drop of it during the cooking process.
Prior to tenderizing the chicken breasts, slice off the thick inner part of each breast, tenderize and set aside.
Once the breasts are tenderized to no thicker than 1/4 inch, salt the breasts inside and out, and lay a hunk of butter inside each one. Now place the extra piece of breast filet on top of the butter, and press down with your fingers or a knife, to seal it. Now roll up the chicken breast side to side, making sure to tuck in all the edges. Here is an illustration from the book of this technique:
Once you have rolled up the breasts into a little torpedo shape, roll each one in flour, then dip in beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs, until well-coated. It is important to make sure the butter is well -sealed inside, so if you feel that it isn’t, use some toothpicks to secure the edges of the chicken.
Heat the oil to medium-low and brown the chicken on all sides. Panko bread crumbs brown relatively quickly, so after browning, place the chicken on a baking pan, and follow up with about a half an hour at 350F in the oven. I threw some sliced zucchini onto the pan to bake at the same time, to save precious post-work free time!
Serve chicken Kiev hot and crispy straight out of the oven with your desired side dish. Dip each slice into the melted buttery sauce before devouring.