ZHOUG CHICKEN KIEV
Occasionally, I will find myself gazing wistfully at a supermarket Chicken Kiev ready meal – fondly remembering when this 70’s classic was the epitome of gastronomic endeavour. Irrespective of the fact that that was, in fact, several decades before I had even been born – Such is the level of association the Chicken Kiev has with the bell-bottomed decade.
Truthfully, when I was introduced to the garlic-butter filled delight, it was already a tired, dated dish. Something that had had it’s time in the sun, and refused to leave until as crisp as it’s crumb-coating. A terrible shame, because objectively it is glorious – crisp, breaded chicken remains one of life’s great gifts and to that, you introduce both garlic AND butter. Quite literally a recipe for success.
So I really wanted to re-invigorate this once wonderful dish. And I have chosen to do this with an ingredient far older, though experiencing a new wave of popularity now. Zhoug.
A spicy, garlicky, herbaceous, bright green condiment from Yemen. Lacing the traditional butter with this flavour-packed Yemenite sauce takes these chicken kievs to entirely new heights whilst still paying ample homage to the original dish.
If you’re looking to impress your guests, this is a winner.
2 Large Chicken Breasts, skin off
75g Panko Breadcrumbs,
30g Plain Flour,
1–2 Eggs, whisked
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
THE ZHOUG BUTTER
50g Unsalted Butter, softened
THE ZHOUG BUTTER
- Place the softened butter and zhoug into a mixing bowl and mix together until fully incorporated.
- Layout a flat sheet of cling-film, foil or parchment and transfer the butter into the centre. Roll into the shape of a small sausage, twisting the ends of the to tighten the butter in place. Transfer to the fridge and leave for a few hours or ideally overnight to firm up.
TIP – If you are pushed for time you can transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes or so.
PREPARING THE CHICKEN KIEV
TIP – If you’re looking to impress, try using Chicken Breast Suprêmes. These are chicken breasts with the wing drummet still attached. You will be able to get these from any good butcher or cut them yourself from a whole chicken.
- Lay your chicken breasts out on a chopping board and remove the inner fillet, setting aside for later – sometimes called the ‘Tender’, this is the small fillet located on the underside of the chicken breast. Depending on the chicken breasts you use, this may not be there. In this case, you may want to trim off some extra chicken for plugging the breast. See step 3 and tip for more details.
- Using a sharp knife, slice a pocket into the chicken breast through the thickest end of the breast. You want the cavity to be approximately the length of your index finger, but take great care not to slice entirely through the breast at any point.
TIP – A few tips here:
– I find this is easiest if you lay the breast down flat and try to get at eye-level whilst slicing into the breast, laying the palm of your other hand over the breast, you should be able to almost feel the blade passing through the breast.
– Think of it more as a controlled-puncture than a slice.
– Try and use a Knife with a blade no more than half the width of the chicken breast.
- Once you have created the cavity, stuff half the now-firm zhoug butter into the cavity, making sure to leave about 1cm of space at the thickest end of the breast. You may need to use slightly less than half of the butter depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Once the zhoug butter is inside, seal-in-place using the inner fillet you removed as a plug, pushed into the start of the cavity.
TIP – If the chicken breasts you used do not have any inner fillets, you can VERY CAREFULLY slice off some of the thicker sides of the chicken breast or the very end of the chicken breast and use this instead. It’s easier if you have cut these off before stuffing. Alternatively, you can use a toothpick and pin the cavity shut.
- To bread the chicken kievs, place the flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper and then dredge the chicken breast in it, making sure the breast is entirely covered and there are no bald spots. Next, dredge the flowered breasts in the egg using one hand and then transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumbs, covering the breast entirely with breadcrumbs using the other hand (ie the wet-hand-dry-hand method).
TIP – For added security, you can dredge each breast in flour and egg twice. The egg and flour mixture effectively creates a glue and *should* prevent any butter from leaking out during cooking.
COOKING THE KIEVS
- Preheat the oven to 180Cº.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat and fill with ground-nut oil until you have a depth of about 5mm of oil in the pan. Once the oil is hot, carefully lay the chicken into the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side until completely golden and crisp. Lift out the chicken and place onto a baking tray.
- Transfer the Kievs to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until entirely cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to kitchen paper, allowing any excess oil to drain off for a couple of minutes. Serve the Kievs immediately after resting with lemon wedges, a green salad and maybe some mash.