How to cook the perfect chicken kiev | Life and style | The Guardian

Chicken kiev is a dish so rooted in the psyche of the 1970s that it may surprise some to realise it was quietly oozing butter before Abigail had even sent out the invitations. Its exact origins seem to be missing in action behind the Iron Curtain. My 1990 copy of The Cooking of Russia, for example, asserts it was "in fact only created about 30 years ago for the opening of the Moscow hotel in Kiev", a "fact" repeated by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his River Cottage Meat Book, but a little more research suggests this isn't quite the case.
A Ukrainian hotelier quoted in the New York Times dates it to 1819, while the Russian Tea Room cookbook credits it to "the great French Chef Carême at the Court of Alexander I" and the food historian Vilyam Pokhlebkin believed its decadence typical of the last days of the Tsarist regime. A mention in the Chicago Daily Record in 1937, in relation to that city's Yar Restaurant which was owned by a former officer of the Imperial Army, is about as far back as concrete evidence seems to go.

Whatever the history, the kiev became a staple of Soviet catering (Intourist brochures apparently warned tourists of the danger it presented to the diner's clothing) and had its glory days in this country in the 70s and 80s. The first chilled ready-meal to be marketed by Marks & Spencer, it was a Friday evening treat in our household. As Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham note in The Prawn Cocktail Years, it has since "disappeared, almost without trace, from the tables of good restaurants, ... along with ... beef stroganoff and trout with almonds" a victim of changing culinary fashions.
The combination of crisp fried chicken and molten garlic butter green with herbs may be a lethal one for school uniforms, but it's well worth a few minutes with the Vanish. Supermarket versions have a certain nostalgic charm, but if you want to experience this "decadent" dish in all its pomp and glory, make your own. You won't regret it.

Perfect Chicken Kiev

The shape is largely irrelevant: the only thing that really matters with a kiev is that when you cut into that crisp shell, you're rewarded with an eruption of vivid green, garlicky butter. And that's a pleasure that will never go out of fashion.
Makes 2
2 chicken breasts
50g salted butter, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
½ lemon
2 tbsp flour, seasoned
2 eggs, beaten
4 tbsp breadcrumbs, panko if possible, seasoned
Vegetable oil, to deep fry

1. Mash together the butter, garlic and herbs, and season with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Form into 2 sausages, and wrap in clingfilm. Put in the fridge to chill.

2. Butterfly a chicken breast by opening it out using a knife, and then put it between 2 sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser until about 0.5cm thick, being careful not to create any holes. Season both sides well.

3. Put a sausage of butter near one edge of the chicken and begin rolling the meat up around it, tucking in the ends as you go (use some egg and flour as glue if they prove obstinate). Roll into a tight sausage using the clingfilm, and freeze for 2 hours.

4. Put the seasoned flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into 3 shallow dishes and then roll the frozen kievs in each in turn, then again in the eggs and crumbs to double coat. Put in the fridge to defrost, which should take about an hour. Preheat the oven to 150C.

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or fryer to 160C, or until a crumb of bread turns golden in about 15 seconds, then gently lower the first kiev in. Cook it for 8½ minutes, then drain on kitchen paper and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the next. Serve immediately, once your guest has tucked a napkin into their collar.

Why did chicken kiev go out of fashion – can we blame the ready meal? And has anyone ever eaten one in its eponymous homeland?


From wikipedia...

Chicken Kiev in popular culture:
  • Chicken Kiev is the label used by William Safire for a speech made in Kiev in August 1991 by then U.S. President George H.W.Bush cautioning Ukrainians against "suicidal nationalism".
  • Chicken Kiev, introduced in Britain in 1976, was Marks & Spencer's first ready-made meal.