Chicken Kiev – You know, Kiev… in Russia. Right?

Chicken Kiev (11 of 12)

The chicken kiev is of Russian origin. I’m sure the Ukrainian people are not too happy about that. However, I wanted to do an original and I thought the Russian vodka in the shot was appropriate. Sorry, Kiev, if I cause any offence. I could have used a glass of Horilka, a traditional Ukrainian spirit? Matching a dish named for the Ukrainian capital with a Russian vodka is not politically correct in this day and age. But, the kiev has a Russian heritage and that is that.

Imagine serving a slice of haggis with a glass of Irish whiskey. Not cool. Picture a wiener schnitzel being served with a glass of Austrian wine. Unthinkable. No, there are many things in food and drink paring that are just not on. So, we’re stuck with the vodka and I will get on with talking about Chicken Kiev.

The Kiev is about as fashionable as wearing purple flared trousers, a seersucker shirt, and platform shoes. But, it is really delicious and worthy of cooking. It was de rigueur at dinner parties back in the day when it was de rigueur to say de rigueur. Today one’s chances of being served it are slim.  The ingredients list is short and simple.

Quality never goes out of fashion. So, there is still hope for me.

Quality never goes out of fashion. So, there is still hope for me.

To feed four hungry people you will need the following:

  • 4 large free range chicken breasts (skin on if possible)
  • 400 grammes or so of butter (at room temperature)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of tarragon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Plenty of Panko breadcrumbs
  • An egg
  • Flour for dusting
  • Salt and pepper

Chop the tarragon up nice and small.

The tarragon needs to be cut pretty fine, as this is a fine dish.

The tarragon needs to be cut pretty fine, as this is a fine dish.

Mash and chop the garlic very fine.

The garlic really needs to be made into a paste. That way, it infuses better.

The garlic really needs to be made nearly into a paste. That way, it infuses better.

Put the butter, garlic and tarragon in a bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice.

A good juice pouring shot will never go out of fashion.

A good juice pouring shot will never go out of fashion.

Beat the bowl contents like it ran off with your wife. Don’t stop until you feel you want her back again. Get some cling film and add about half the butter.

The butter is pretty tasty right as it is. Avoid temptation.

The butter is pretty tasty right as it is. Avoid temptation.

Roll the butter into a nice sausage shape. If you are dexterous enough, you can do this without getting butter everywhere.

I could eat it on it's own but for the fact that it would stick in my heart.

I could eat it on its own but for the fact that it would clog my heart.

Stick the butter log into the freezer for about half an hour. And speaking of sticking things, get a sharp knife and stab the chicken breast as shown in the picture.

Wiggle it about a bit to make the cavity bigger (snigger, why don't you?).

Wiggle it about a bit to make the cavity bigger (snigger, why don’t you?).

Take the butter out of the freezer, unwrap it and slice four appropriately sized logs. Press the log into the hole in the chicken (I need to be careful how I say that).

Shove it in all the way. Do it in an elegant fashion.

Shove it in all the way. Do it in an elegant fashion. I remind you, this is an elegant dish.

Close the opening and seal it with a cocktail stick or two. That will stop the butter leaking out in the cooking, if you get lucky. Set your oven to 200ºC.

Set up a Chicken Kiev production line and get busy.

Set up a Chicken Kiev production line and get busy.

Heat a frying pan and add some oil. Beat the egg, on a plate, with a fork. Season some flour on a plate and plate the breadcrumbs as shown in the picture. Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs again.

Place the chicken into the frying pan and brown the outside one or two at a time.

The panko gives a really crispy outer coating.

The Panko gives a really crispy outer coating.

Transfer to a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the Chicken Kievs with mashed potatoes and an appropriate vegetable. Be sure to decorate the mash with a leaf of tarragon.

Delicious texture and flavours never go out of fashion.

Delicious texture and flavours never go out of fashion.

Slice the chicken open and watch the melted tarragon and garlic butter pour out onto your plate. Enjoy the aromas and eat carefully, you don’t want to get any butter on that seersucker shirt of yours.

First footnote of honesty: I didn’t drink any vodka with the kiev. Not because of any politically inspired correctness. I didn’t do it because I’m not a lunatic. The day that I start drinking neat vodka with my dinner is the day that I will need to go away for a ‘quick sponge and press’ as we sometimes say here in Ireland.

Final footnote on food and places: So the Kiev is not from Kiev. The Dublin bay Prawn hasn’t been seen scampering around (or is that scampi ing around) in our part of the world in my lifetime. The London Broil comes from America. None of this matters. the Kiev is delicious, wherever its origins. 

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Latest comments
  • Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My middle teen refuses to eat anything ‘healthy’ and loves the cheapest, most crappy ‘chicken’ products she can find. I’ve been meaning to make this for her in the hope she’ll appreciate a decent Kiev, have it bookmarked now!

    • Out of fashion and now hopefully not out of favour. Happy days!

  • What! Purple flared trousers aren’t in? Well, that’s awkward. Damn fashion, I have always enjoyed a good (the key word) Chicken Kiev. (Regardless of its original origins.) It’s bedtime here and that last photo has my mouthwatering. Nice one, I have never made this for my lads but it’s on my to do list now.

    • Hi Lisa,
      It’s funny how fashion rules the roost, even in food. Now, I must prepare a good prawn cocktail with thousand island dressing….

  • Neat Vodka of course should only ever be drunk for breakfast.

    • I prefer to have had mine before I get out of the bed. That way nobody knows….

  • Don’t sweat it. Only the French give a damn about things being ‘properly’ named. Spaghetti Bolognese wouldn’t be recognised in Bologna, and who drinks marsala with Veal Marsala? You have, as we say Down Under, “acknowledged the traditional owners” of the name… It looks yummy, now all I need is a decent GF alternative to the panko crumbs.

    • Sorry for subjecting you to the panko torture Kate. If you can find some, do give it a go. This may sound daft but, could corn bread crumbs do the job? A lo of work to prepare but, not if you made the cornbread to go with a chili for that man of yours. You can eat some too but, chili is a man thing!

      • I think I shall first try collecting the heels of my GF loaves, toast them till they’re hard and then blitz them. That might do the trick. Not as crispy as panko, sadly… There’s a GF brand of rice breadcrumbs (surely a contradiction in terms) but I haven’t tried it as I rarely crumb things. You almost persuade me, sir.

        • Let me know how it goes. Necessity is the mother of invention.

          • I’m sure I won’t have any trouble persuading the Husband to be my test subject…

      • Kate, I have used crushed corn flake cereal as a coating for chicken before and they come out awesome! Are those gluten-free?

  • Nothing wrong with Chicken Kiev ( especially yours)! I think a Burgundy white chardonnay would work very well with it, St Veran or even Pouilly Fuissé, but yeah, forget about vodka! 🙂

    • You are not wrong in those recommendations. I couldn’t bring myself to even open that bottle of vodka. A friend brought it back from Russia over 20 years ago. I suspect it will “see me down” as the old saying goes.

      • So can I assume that is water in the shot glass? 😉

      • I was invited by a friend and the Head Chef at Guilbaud’s in 2001 in that Russian restaurant near the Wesbury (Tszar or something). With vodka before and after each course… Total nightmare! Stick to what you know, in my case it’s vino! 🙂

        • The vodka between courses could get things pretty out of hand. It is the sort of thing that could go well with very fatty food, eaten in very cold weather. I too will stick with the vino.

  • I did frequent a fabulous Italian restaurant in Notting Hill in the 80s (sadly no longer there) and they did the most amazing pollo sopresso (chicken Kiev) – the garlic butter literally squirted out when you cut into it. Yours looks delicious – I’ve yet to make it, but I do remember reading that refrigerating the butter stuffed, bread crumbed chicken for 30 minutes beforehand, helps ensure against leaking 🙂

    • Thanks MD,
      It’s hard to get it to not leak. I did my best and had some success as well as some failure that I will not share here. I did stick the butter into the freezer before shoving it into the chicken. Perhaps next time I’ll try the fridge thing too.

      • Chilled the butter is definitely a good idea, like chilling a breaded Camembert before frying. I think chilling the whole kiev before cooking allows the milk, egg, flour and breadcrumbs to stick tight. I read up on this because I’ve been intending to do something similar, though not with chicken, for some time 🙂

        • Try a turkey breast and bring me around to share it!

          • Ha ha – I was thinking of something smaller than chicken and not even a bird…

          • Fillet steak could be fun as could a venison filet. Come to think of it, I am hard pressed to think of a meat that would not be delicious done this way.

          • I think I have seen a steak dish with a pocket, though I can’t think what.

      • You need a small dab of transglutaminase (aka meat glue) to close the opening instead of using toothpicks. Perfect every time.

        Occasionally I make a version of this, uncrumbed, sous vide.

  • Chicken Kiev has such an horrific reputation here in Oz, it’s years since I ever thought to make it, let alone eat it. I’ll tease my hair into a beehive, wear my long white boots, mini skirt and false eyelashes and get to it

    • I’m getting a visual. You bring me back to my youth. Not that I wore that stuff myself….

  • Looks incredible delicious! I think tarragon is my most loved herb ever. It`s taste is unmistakable!

    • It sure is OCG. Not enough of it used i my opinion. It has a lovely flavour.

  • Purple flares are not the height of fashion?! I’m shattered.
    Seriously though, I love Chicken Kiev, I don’t care how old fashioned that makes me. Just to make it extra *ahem* healthy, I crumble bacon into the butter.

    • Donna,
      The purple flare was a particular favourite of mine. You would be too young to remember the V knee craze that went on around the same time. The nonsense we endure for fashion! The bacon is decadent.

      • As a child of the 80s I was a victim of very bad fashion too, although I can probably blame my mother for a lot of it!

  • How many neckties were sacrificed when hit by a squirt of butter from a freshly cut chicken Kiev? I’ll gladly take the chance. It may be considered out-dated but chicken Kiev is still a great meal and your recipe is a good one, Conor.

    • Thanks John,
      There is some sartorial danger with this one, for sure. I find it best to not wear the tie and live with the stained shirt.

  • I was actually hoping it was water – what a huge glass!!! Chicken Kiev looks pretty wonderful – I never really knew what it was. Love that filling! Butter!!!

    • Butter with lots of garlic and tarragon. Delicious and not recommended for everyday consumption. Delicious though!

  • I like your technique – I will try it for my next Kiev-ing adventure.

    • The trick is to get the thing to stay sealed. Not all of them did. But, what do you do?

      • Still . . . worth it

  • I’m so impressed that you made this! Growing up this was a classic when we went to Coney Island where my grandparents live. It’s like classic French cooking in that it’s not posh anymore, but still so so classic as you mentioned. Everything about it is probably bad for you and yet the gushing butter when you cut into it just gets me every time. Great choice to highlight this week!

    • Thanks Amanda,
      Delighted to have rekindled some memories. I suspect the lean chicken, the garlic and the tarragon are all on the positive side of the ledger. The butter , the frying and the breadcrumbs obviously more than balance it towards the net Bad. Still the gushing butter helps….

  • Well look how clueless I am. I didn’t even know Chicken Kiev went out of style! Which probably explains why I still have padded shoulder jackets in my closet. I’m adding this to my “to make” list for when my tarragon plant revives itself in the spring. I’ve made tarragon butter before, but never with the garlic. I must do this!

    • I now have a vision in my mind. You wearing a “Carrington” style jacket, preparing this, probably listening to the Bee Gees.

  • A couple of years I ago I spent 3 weeks traveling around Ukraine. Yes they would not be happy if you called them Russian. I spent a week in Kiev and found it to be a delightful fairly modern city. A week in Odessa and Then a few days in Lviv, There I had a traditional Ukrainian breakfast served with you guessed it a shot of Vodka. Also visit the Shabo winery outside of Odessa which was a very modern facility. Either way your Chicken Kiev looks awesome and makes me want to make it again. Please share with us at Throwback Thursday.

    • Thanks for that Dad,
      I do understand they might not be too happy with that. Tongue is planted firmly in my cheek when I suggest so. I can understand the shot with breakfast too. It is a bitterly cold morning here in Ireland and I could have done with one to get the blood moving today!

  • That flavoured butter alone is enough to make me drool. Tarragon is such an underrated herb, glad that it’s being appropriately honoured in your golden, elegant chicken dish Conor! And as for being in or out of style? Bah. I completely agree, delicious flavours will ALWAYS be stylish. Particularly after a few vodkas 😉

  • Thanks Laura,
    You had to ruin the lovely complement with “…after a few vodkas”. LOL. Though, you had me with “golden, elegant chicken”.

  • Lovely! I actually knew Ukrainian people who handed me a leaflet claiming that Russians were not only NOT Ukrainian, but actually a different race! I don’t know how they feel about Chicken Kiev and would be afraid to ask.

    • Hi Tonette,
      I think it’s best to make the mild jokes from afar. Making the dish is a good idea too.

  • I enjoyed reading your story. Cheers (not drinking vodka);-)

    • Yes, best to “stay off the sauce” as we say here in Ireland.

  • I had no idea about the history of this delicious dish. I usually pick up premade ones from the store, but I may have to try my hand at making them.

    • Hi Amanda,
      The store bought are a pale shadow of the deliciousness in these. I would really encourage you to try it. Not too often though as they are big on calories as well as deliciousness.

  • I’m surprised I’ve never made Chicken Kiev before, since most of the techniques you’ve described are precicely in my wheelhouse.

    • Then you have no excuse Jeff. I look forward to seeing the results.

  • I’m not sure what a seersucker shirt is, or even what a “sponge and a press” is, but I do know for sure that Chicken Kiev is some tasty shit! With or with out neat voddy 🙂
    Nice job Conor!

    • Going for a “sponge and press” used to be a euphemism for going in to rehab to “dry out” (another euphemism). You are just as well off not knowing about the seersucker shirts!

  • I’ve never heard of a ‘sponge and a press’ either but it’s very descriptive.
    Your kievs look very enticing and I’m quite partial to a prawn cocktail too. Not sure I can manage the traditional black forest gateau for afters, though. Maybe I’ll just have another piece of chicken kiev, oh if you really insist, just to oblige, thank you.

    • I was put off BFG for life because, in the first ‘real’ job I had, one of my duties was to go and buy one from a local bakery store on every birthday in the company. We also had to eat a wedge. I shudder at the thought.

  • Not too fond of Russia for various recent political reasons … but this Russian dish looks and sounds absolutely worth dying for 🙂
    Thank you for introducing it to me.
    May you acquire more culinary skills in 2016 🙂

    • Thanks Nusrat. Delighted to hear from you, as always. I hope this year brings you everything you deserve and desire.

  • Conor, when my parents took us kids to a restaurant (and this is back in the 60’s) I always looked for Chicken Kiev or Beef Stroganoff. There’s a post I’ve been meaning to do! And if they didn’t have either, I wanted the French Dip – which was, ya know, invented in America, maybe with French Fries. Of course, no meal was complete without an ice-berg salad and, ahem, Russian Dressing.

    We always knew it was a good restaurant if there was a pile of parsley on the side of the plate and Andes Mints came at the end of the meal, a mediocre one if we got Peppermint Patties.

    Lovely post and the chicken was gorgeous both before and after!

  • I’m very fond of Chicken Kiev, no matter where it’s from, but it still reminds me of a friend who used to call it Chicken “Keeev” in a flat Clare accent two decades ago. That was back in the days when we thought we were au fait with everything, but still hadn’t a breeze what de rigueur meant.

    • At least you were au fait. That also was de rigueur.

  • Hi looking forward to trying this tonight. It seems you only use half the butter? Do you use the rest for something else?

    • Hi, yes, I used the balance in another batch of Chicken Kiev, what else!
      Thanks for the visit and good question.

  • It’s Ukrainian, not Russian.

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