This chicken Kiev recipe makes the retro Russian classic that was once cooked for Russia’s tsars, that was democratised during the Soviet Union, and popularised outside the USSR in the 1970s. An iconic Russian dish of chicken breasts stuffed with parsley butter, coated in egg and bread crumbs and fried, it was another dish on my baboushka’s table for family meals.
Zdravstvuyte! Здравствуйте! That’s hello in Russian or, rather, the formal hello. The more casual hello or hi or hey is pree-vyét! Приве́т! I’ll tell you why I’m learning Russian all over again – in Cambodia of all places – in a moment. First, I want to tell you about our incredibly delicious chicken Kiev recipe, which makes an outstanding version of one of the most popular Russian recipes.
Our chicken Kiev recipe makes a succulent and crunchy version of the crumbed chicken fillets stuffed with parsley butter that were served to Russia’s emperors, made egalitarian in canteens during the Soviet era, and became an iconic dish of the Seventies in the West – along with the likes of beef Stroganoff and borscht – before becoming a retro classic in recent years.
I’ll tell you why our take on one of the most popular Russian food recipes is more succulent and crunchier in a moment, but first…
If you’ve been following our series of Russian recipes for some of the most traditional Russian food favourites in recent weeks and you’ve cooked or even bookmarked our recipes for Russian potato vareniki (or Ukrainian varynyky), Russian pelmeni (or Ukrainian pelmeni if you prefer), fried Russian dumplings, my baboushka’s stuffed cabbage rolls, beetroot potato salad, savoury piroshki (Russian hand pies), and Russian kotleti (chicken meat patties), can we ask a favour?
If you’ve cooked these or any of our recipes and have enjoyed them, can you please consider supporting Grantourismo so that we can keep producing delicious recipes and food stories? You can click through to this post for ideas as to how to support Grantourismo but here are a few suggestions: you can shop on our online Society6 store where we’ve got everything from gifts for street food fans created from Terence’s mouthwatering images to cool reusable cloth face masks for food lovers.
You could also make a one-off donation or become a regular donor to our epic first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon or you could buy something on Amazon, such as one of these James Beard 2020 award-winning cookbooks, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, cookbooks for foodie travellers, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. Now let me tell you about our chicken Kiev recipe.
Published 16 January 2021
Chicken Kiev Recipe for a Retro Classic Cooked For Russian Tsars
Since we moved into our new Siem Reap apartment last month I’ve been unexpectedly yet somewhat serendipitously re-learning my limited Russian language due to the fact that our new downstairs neighbours are a young family of Russian-speaking Ukrainians.
But listening to Russian spoken every day has not only unlocked subconscious Russian language skills I’d forgotten I had, but motivated me to re-learn Russian and sign up to an online Russian language course – especially as we hope to produce a cookbook of my Russian family recipes after finishing our Cambodia cookbook and culinary history. It feels as if this was all meant to be, but I’ll return to that subject another day. Let me tell you about our chicken Kiev recipe first.
If you thought the origin of Russian dishes such as pelmeni and borscht was contested, the provenance of this iconic Russian dish is also much-debated. There are culinary historians who argue that chicken Kiev was a dish invented for Russia’s tsars and served in the Russian palaces not during their long, lavish multi-course banquets, but during more intimate family meals.
There’s much debate as to whether chicken Kiev was a dish invented by a Russian chef who went to France to train or a French chef who travelled to Russia to cook in the palaces. The Ukrainians also claim chicken Kiev as their own, which isn’t surprising, as Kiev – or Kyiv – is a glorious Ukraine city and one theory suggests it was invented in a Kiev hotel.
Another claim about the origin of chicken Kiev is that it was a dish concocted in an American restaurant to appeal to Russian immigrants, expatriates and visitors – which is just as ludicrous as the suggestion that chicken Kiev was invented during the Soviet era and its inspiration was McDonalds meat patties! Seriously.
I’m going to return to the topic of Russian cuisine, Ukrainian cuisine, and the culinary history of Russia, the Soviet Union and former Russian Empire, but for now I just want to tell you how we got these Russian chicken cutlets to taste so moist and so crunchy.
Terence brined the chicken breasts, which results in an incredibly moist aromatic chicken cutlet, and used panko crumbs to coat the breaded chicken, which will give the breasts a crunchier texture. I’ll let Terence share his tips to making this Russian chicken Kiev recipe.
If you are considering taking up a new language, do see our tips for learning a new language during lockdown. Even if you’re not confined to your home, our advice still applies.
Tips for Making this Chicken Kiev Recipe
One of my best tips for making this chicken Kiev recipe is to choose chicken breasts that are as thick as possible so you can create a good sized ‘pocket’ in the breast. Cutting from the thicker side will enable you to get a better ‘seal’ with your toothpicks.
And don’t forget to take the toothpicks out before serving! The best way to do this is to note how many toothpicks are in each breast and space them evenly apart.
While most recipes just say to use ‘dry breadcrumbs’. We like to use Japanese panko breadcrumbs because they are super dry and have shapes that give you a lovely textured surface to the cooked chicken breasts, as well as adding extra crunch. Don’t tell your baboushka!
We also recommend brining the chicken before cooking. The salt, sugar and garlic add a little extra flavour and the chicken breasts stay super moist even if you might overcook the breasts a little.
When it comes to cooking our chicken Kiev recipe, depending on the thickness of the breasts and your cooking temperature, you might be able to cook the breasts all the way through in the pan. (I like to use a large flat-bottom cooking pan). Use a meat thermometer to check that the chicken meat has cooked through. You want it to read at 74˚C.
If you are cooking the chicken breasts one at a time, keep the cooked breasts in an oven tray covered with foil in a warm oven.
We serve our chicken Kiev with creamy mashed potato and vegetables such as baby carrots and Brussels sprouts sautéed in crispy bacon.
Any chicken Kiev leftovers are fantastic on fresh sourdough bread spread with Romaine lettuce and dill mayonnaise.
Chicken Kiev Recipe
- 4 chicken breast fillets
- 150 g salted butter softened (at room temperature)
- 2 tbsp curly parsley finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt fine
- 1 tsp pepper ground
- 2 eggs beaten
- Rice bran oil for frying
- A couple of hours before cooking, brine the chicken breasts with salt, sugar and one garlic clove split in half.
- When your butter is easy to spread (do not microwave), add it and the garlic and parsley in a bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients so that they are well mixed.
- Spread a 15cm square of plastic wrap out on a kitchen bench and spoon the mixture onto the wrap. Form a 'sausage' with the mixture about 10 cm long and then roll the plastic wrap over the mix. Twist both ends of the plastic wrap util the 'sausage' is firmly packed.
- Place this in the freezer until firm. You can then leave it in the refrigerator until you are ready to prep before cooking the chicken.
- Drain and dry the brined chicken breasts. Place them on a cutting board and make a thick cut down the length of the thicker side fo the breast, leaving the last 1 cm intact. The cut should be deep but not go right through the breast.
- Heat your oil in a large frying pan. The oil needs to be high enough up the sides of the pan to cover half the thickness of the breasts (we cook one side at a time).
- When your herb butter 'sausage' is firm enough to cut, remove the plastic wrap and slice evenly into 16 even discs, 4 for each breast. Push the discs into the breasts and seal with toothpicks. Make sure the toothpicks do not protrude excessively from the breasts.
- Place the flour on a large plate. To the right of this place a bowl with the beaten eggs. Next to this we will have a large plate with the panko breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin, break the breadcrumbs down to smaller pieces, but not to a fine consistency. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate and season with salt and pepper.
- Coat each piece of chicken in the flour, then shake off any excess flour. Dip the breast in the eggs, being sure to fully coat the breast. Drain over the bowl for a few seconds, then coat the breasts in breadcrumbs and place on a tray.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place a baking tray in there for the finished chicken breasts.
- The oil in your frying pan should be at 176°C before cooking the breasts. Do not crowd the pan as the oil will loose temperature. Cook each side for around 2 minutes or until golden brown. Using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of each breast. You need it to reach 74˚C. If the pieces are perfectly golden but not up to temperature place then in the oven until they are cooked through.
- Serve immediately with mashed potato and vegetables.
Do let us know if you make our chicken Kiev recipe as we’d love to know how it turned out for you. You can share your experience and tips or ask questions in the comments below, by email or on social media.