Chicken Kiev – ah, Citizens, THIS is a classic recipe indeed that deserves a revival! Chicken Kiev is a breast of chicken, pounded thin, stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley, then rolled, breaded and fried. When you cut into this crispy and succulent package, a stream of butter spurts out to prove the richness and theater of this recipe.
Despite its name, the origins of this dish are hotly disputed, although it is clear it dates back to the time of the Czars. Russia, of course, claims it for its own. Ukrainians, too, for obvious reasons, consider it their national dish. The most likely evidence, however, points to France, which was the source of many “Russian” dishes during the reign of the Czars.
In the 18th century, say food historians, French cuisine was so popular in St Petersburg that the Empress Elizabeth would send scores of chefs to study in Paris. One of them returned with a recipe for Cotelettes de Volaille, a dish not unlike Chicken Kiev.
Initially, the dish was confined to the posh dining rooms of the aristocracy and to occasions of state; it wasn’t until after World War II that the creation became popular half a world away.
In order to lure Russian and Ukrainian immigrants to their establishments, New York chefs dubbed the dish “Chicken Kiev” and began serving it in their restaurants. It caught on across the world and made Chicken Kiev a household name during the 1950’s and 1960’s as a standard-bearer for high-end cuisine.
To make the point, Don Draper on “Mad Men” and his date both ordered this at a top restaurant in NYC in the first episode of Season 4.
I’ve updated this classic by using Japanese panko bread crumbs for extra crunch and a complex herbed compound butter inside the cutlets of my own design.
I hope you will enjoy my version of this deservedly famous recipe, my Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
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