Last night I had my parents over for the very first Russian dinner prepared by me!! I actually chose recipes from a Russian cookbook (Please To The Table) I recently purchased. The cookbook has over 400 recipes and no pictures so I was hoping my parents would know better what the food should look like… and more importantly – taste like.
So for my first meal, I decided to make chicken Kiev. Have you heard of it before? I feel like this is one of the most well-known Russian dishes among Americans, yet to be honest – I had no idea what it actually was. I was imagining chicken stuffed with cheese and maybe even ham (I think I was confusing it with chicken Cordon Blue… must have been). What I discovered was it was chicken stuffed with herbed butter. It should be served straight out of the fryer (oh yeah!) so that the melted butter inside oozes out as soon as you cut into it. Mmmm…
So yeah, funny enough – I thought I was making the most traditional Russian dish of all but my parents informed me that this was more of an entree you’d see at fancy restaurants. After going through the steps of making the herbed butter, stuffing the breasts, waiting… and then finally frying these babies (from start to finish the process ideally takes 7 hours!!! <– I misread the recipe so it took me less time as I took shortcuts but it actually worked out, so I’ll share those with you), I can see why a regular homecook just wouldn’t bother. With that said, it was delicious and my very first time deep frying something (as terrified as I originally was) was surprisingly thrilling. I think it was all the oil bubbles dancing around the chicken! Onto the recipe…
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 4T unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1.5T chopped fresh dill
- 6 chicken breasts (about 8oz each)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of bread crumbs (homemade best –> they have larger chunks that fry up deliciously!)
- all-purpose flour for dipping the chicken
- canola oil for frying (get a large bottle!)
Equipment: toothpicks and either a deep fryer or just a regular pot (that’s all I had).
Note: make sure you leave plenty of time for this. There is a lot of refrigeration time. Make sure you make the herbed butter at least 4 hours before serving (ideally 7). Alternatively you can make the butter ahead of time, and then stuff the chicken breasts 1.5-4.5 hours prior to serving (see below). Still a long time so make sure you’re prepared!!
1. Combine room temperature butter, lemon juice, fresh dill and freshly ground pepper (to taste) in a mini food processor.
Voila, you’ve got herbed butter. Easy, right?
2. Shape butter into 12 little sticks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (this step can be done ahead of time).
3. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness (I like doing that between some cling wrap to keep everything nice and clean).
4. Cut each breast in half, length-wise
4. Now time to stuff each chicken strip with a butter stick.
Roll the butter inside the chicken, make sure the butter is completely inside each chicken strip. Use toothpicks to hold it all together.
5. Prepare 3 bowls – one with flour, one with eggs, one with bread crumbs
Dip into each one (in that order), shaking excess flour/egg/crumbs off.
Refrigerate stuffed chicken strips for at least 4 hours (or if you’re low on time, place in the freezer for 1 hour <– that’s what I did and it worked well).
6. Now is the fun part. Let’s fry these babies!!
Preheat oil to 350*F (I used a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature stayed there). If your oil is too hot, the outside will burn and the inside will still be raw. If your oil is not hot enough, it will take longer for the chicken to cook through, thus absorbing a lot more oil. Greasy chicken is not what we’re after. Fried crispy chicken is the goal!
Do NOT overcrowd the pot.
Seriously, I was kind of scared doing this step but the oil bubbles made it so fun!!
Cook for about 8 minutes until the exterior is golden brown. Place on paper towels to soak up some of the excess oil.
7. Enjoy!!! Best step, right?
I forgot to take a picture of the gooey butter center, although the crispy chicken crust was definitely my favorite part. I served this with fried potatoes with wild mushrooms + a simple tomato/cucumber salad. These are the most classic Russian sides. I’ll do a quickie post on those next!
Have you ever heard of chicken Kiev? Have you ever tried it? … and on another note…. Do you own a deep fryer? Have you ever fried anything?