A few weeks ago our Hudson neighbor, the cookbook author Tamar Adler posted the following on Instagram:
This made us smile. It also made us want to know how she likes to make fried chicken. So we asked. Turns out one of her favorite recipes for fried chicken is for chicken Kiev and it’s in her cookbook, Something Old, Something New, which recently came out in paperback. We made it immediately. And you should, too. It was incredibly buttery. One of us even added hot sauce into the herb butter, because why not?
Soon you’ll be able to make chicken Kiev while listening to her new Luminary podcast, Food Actually with Tamar Adler.
TAMAR ADLER’S CHICKEN KIEV
James Beard called chicken Kiev a “Russian Specialty.” The Russian Tea Room claims it was invented by Antoine Carême for a tsar—and so is French with Russian ornamentations. I do not know what the Russians themselves believe. I assume it is that chicken Kiev, along with tea, ballet, and space exploration, was invented by them.
In its original form, chicken Kiev was a chicken breast rolled around herb butter, secured by toothpicks, breaded, and fried. One must freeze the butter, then freeze the stuffed breasts to avoid their incurring a (rather common) leak. I have ruminated, while rolling and breading and freezing, on the question of whether, in order to be chicken Kiev, the dish must be so much trouble.
I have proven in the unscientific laboratory of my own kitchen that the pleasure in eating chicken Kiev lies not in the deception and surprise of its butter remaining hidden and making a grand entrance but in how good fried chicken is with herb butter.
I am certain it is simpler, and I believe it is as good, to mix fresh herbs into sweet butter, fry chicken breasts until crisp, and then smear them with the ruddy green butter, which will start to melt in lovely pools that instant.
Chicken Kiev, of a Kind
optional: freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ clove garlic, pounded to a paste with a tiny bit of salt
1 tbsp. finely chopped scallion
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
a few drops of fresh lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
soft white bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
vegetable or grapeseed oil, for frying
Pull off the chicken tenders and reserve them, or include, and lightly pound each breast with a rolling pin to even out its thickness, then cut each in half. Season each well with salt and black pepper, if you like. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
Combine the butter, garlic, scallion, parsley, tarragon, and lemon juice and mash to make herb butter, then season with salt. Form into a cylinder and refrigerate or leave in a bowl at room temperature.
Put the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into three separate shallow dishes. Set a draining rack over a cookie sheet at the far side of the three.
Dip the chicken pieces first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess of each. Set the breaded chicken on the rack as you finish each piece. In a large, deep pan, heat ¾ to 1 inch of vegetable oil to 375 degrees, or until a bread crumb dropped into the hot oil fries to golden in about 15 seconds. If there is room in the pan to leave nearly an inch between the pieces of chicken, fry them all at once. Otherwise, fry them in two batches. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, adjusting the heat to keep the frying steady.
Remove each briefly to the cleaned rack for a moment. Serve hot, with a lot of cold herb butter on each.
Anything goes with these crisp, buttery fillets, and nothing but a salad is needed. If there is anything left after dinner, it should tomorrow be made automatically into sandwiches with mayonnaise, tufts of herbs, and olive oil.