The ultimate chicken Kiev? A peerless crème brûlée? Felicity Cloake creates perfect versions of classic dishes by mixing the best from top chefs’ recipes – try them yourself in this final part of her delicious series
Four pages of classic recipes, from chicken Kiev and porridge to the perfect bacon sandwich
In this final, mouthwatering part in our series, Felicity Cloake serves up her ultimate versions of four more classic dishes. Felicity has taken recipes from the likes of Delia Smith, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigella Lawson and Elizabeth David and rigorously put them to the test – then blended together the bits that work best from each one to create her own perfect versions...
dish associated predominantly with the Seventies in all their exotic glory, the Kiev’s exact origins are, sadly, missing in action behind the Iron Curtain. Apparently immune to Cold War travel restrictions, it was a bit of a treat in my Eighties childhood: my brother was adept at spotting the inevitable leaky portion and passing it on to someone else, usually me.
I still love the Kiev today but, clearly, the leakage issue was of primary importance if I was to improve upon the supermarket version. Just plugging the hole with more chicken, as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests, proved a disaster, with nary a drop of butter left.
Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham stick the chicken together with egg and flour in their book The Prawn Cocktail Years, which proves more effective, as does freezing the butter and securing it in its meaty prison with a cocktail stick.
But the best method of all comes from Jesse Dunford Wood, a London chef who wraps the stuffed chicken breast tightly in clingfilm and freezes it for a couple of hours, then defrosts it before cooking. It’s far less fiddly, and works like a charm. Double coating the Kievs with super-crisp panko breadcrumbs provides extra insurance for my precious butter, as well as offering another layer of crunch.
The authentic dish, according to Hugh, Simon and Lindsey, is made with a chicken breast with the wing bone still attached, but Darra Goldstein suggests, in A Taste Of Russia, that this is simply so it can be ‘outfitted with an aluminium or paper frill to look fancy’.
Hopeful dieters may be interested to know that the American magazine Cook’s Illustrated bake their Kievs, which gives a surprisingly tasty result but, importantly, fails to deliver the vital crisp outer shell. So it’s deep-frying all the way, I’m afraid – but once you cut into that well of hot, garlicky butter, you won’t regret it.
• 50g (1¾oz) salted butter, at room temperature
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 2 tbps parsley, finely chopped
• 1tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
• ½ a lemon
• 2 chicken breasts
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 2tbsp flour, seasoned
• 4tbsp breadcrumbs, panko (from supermarkets) if possible, seasoned
• Vegetable oil, to deep-fry
Use a fork to mash together the butter, crushed garlic and chopped herbs, and season with black pepper, a little salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Shape the mixture into 2 small sausages, and wrap each of them in clingfilm. Put into the fridge to chill.
Butterfly each chicken breast by opening it out using a knife (make a horizontal cut almost – but not quite – all the way through, and open it out like a book), then put it between two sheets of clingfilm and bash it with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser until it’s about 5mm (½in) thick, being careful not to bash so hard that you create holes. Season both sides of the breasts well.
Put one of the sausages of butter on the edge of the chicken breast nearest you and begin to roll the meat up around it, tucking in the ends as you go (use a little beaten egg and flour as glue if it proves obstinate). Use clingfilm to wrap the chicken into a tight sausage, and freeze for 2 hours.
Put the seasoned flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into three separate shallow dishes and roll the frozen Kievs in each in turn, then again in the eggs and crumbs.
Put them into the fridge to defrost, which should take about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or fryer to 160°C, or until a crumb of bread turns golden in about 15 seconds, then lower the first Kiev in.
Cook for 8½ minutes, drain on kitchen paper, then put it into the oven to keep warm while you cook the next one repeating the process.
Serve immediately, once your guest has either disrobed or tucked a napkin securely into their collar.