Properly done, this old friend is a wonder of the culinary world, says Richard
The classic chicken Kiev gets star treatment
This month’s recipe is as ‘old school’ as it gets, a truly retro dish that has been appearing on menus since the early 60s in the UK. It fell out of fashion when we became too ‘foodie’ for our own good, but now seems to be making a welcome return.
Chicken Kiev was on the original Old Beams menu at Brundall in 1963 (priced at 12/6), I served it through the 1970s at Great Yarmouth’s Imperial Hotel, it was a staple of frozen food cabinets and ready meals of the 80s, usually made with reformed chicken, but thankfully has now started to reappear in its intended form.
Done well, it’s a delight, the punchy, buttery garlic unctuousness giving a muchneeded boost to the somewhat bland chicken breast. It works superbly well with pheasant, giving the meat some much needed moisture when is cooks.
Despite its moniker, I’m not sure it’s a Russian dish. It was, like most great dishes, invented by a Frenchman, as most wealthy Russian households hired French chefs, and its popularity spread when early New York restaurateurs put it in the menu in an attempt to please Russian immigrants
The chicken Kiev sits alongside the prawn cocktail, the vol au vent, fondue and Black Forest gateau as classic dishes from an era when we the masses were discovering the pleasures of dining out and which, properly done, are wonders of the culinary world.
Great food should never go out of fashion, a point that will be proved when you serve this up on a chilly November evening.
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ABOVE: How a proper chicken Kiev should look