Delicious Russia: Chicken Kiev

RBTH and our cook Andrey Kipyatkov, are proud to present the new issue of our cookery video podcast Delicious Russia. Chicken Kiev is a popular breaded cutlet dish made from boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled in cold garlic butter with herbs, then breaded and either fried or baked.

The dish has traditionally been considered Ukrainian in origin since its name comes from Kiev. However, some food historians have claimed that Chicken Kiev was invented in the Moscow Merchants' Club in the early 20th century, and was subsequently renamed Chicken Kiev by a Soviet restaurant.

As the famous William Pokhlyobkin recounts, Russian restaurants entered into serious competition in the first decade of the 20th century. In their struggle for merchants with money, they didn’t just use good food, but Gypsy choirs and dance ensembles, as well… Then, the top members of merchant society decided to convert their Merchants’ Club in the capital into their own kind of “cultural center of Russian capitalism.”

For 3 cutlets:

Chicken breast - 3 pcs  

Butter - 300 g

Flour - 300 g

Dill - 1 sheaf

Breading - 300 g

Eggs - 2 pcs

Garlic - 1 pc

A luxurious restaurant was opened and the best European and Russian chefs were invited to work there. The only culinary accomplishment of the “new Russian” restaurant were what was called “new Mikhailov cutlets”, named after the Mikhailovsky Palace located nearby.

30 years later, in 1947, the cutlets were prepared for a small circle of Ukrainian diplomats upon the Ukrainian delegation’s return from Paris where they had signed peace accords with former German satellites after World War II. These cutlets then appeared in a restaurant on Kreshchatyk (the central street in Kiev) under the name “Chicken Kiev”. After another 10 years, this dish became standard for all restaurants.

The dish ruined countless numbers of snow-white shirts and expensive jackets: when trying to cut it with a knife (in a decorously Western European style), it shot out a long stream of butter, pouring liquid goo either on the face of the person bent over eating it or all over his suit. In the end, foreign companies who sent tourists to the Soviet Union were obliged to include a special warning in their brochures to be careful when eating Chicken Kiev.

Chicken Kiev became such a fixture that, by the 1970s, the dish had become a mediocre and tasteless dish and ended up being sold as a processed food in culinary stores. Today, we will try to save the cutlet’s butter-splattered reputation.

1) Take a chicken filet and cut it into two parts

2) Take the filling (butter and dill) and put it on the chicken. Carefully wrap it.

3) Roll it in flour and in the breading

4) It’s very important to do this one more time so that the seam doesn’t open when we cook

5) Put them in the freezer for 20 minutes so that the breading sets

6) Fry them for 5 minutes so that we get a crust and then put them in the oven

7) Put it in a pan and place it in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 10-15 minutes

And now it’s ready. You can use vegetables, potatoes, rice, or whatever you’d like as a side

There are other dishes similar to Chicken Kiev. Particularly popular among them is Chicken Cordon Bleu which contains a cheese and ham filling instead of butter.

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