One-Pot Wonders

Chicken Kiev

April 26, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Many years ago I attempted to expand my recipe base using Alice's Restaurant Cookbook as my guide. Alice was so casual with her approach, and I was attracted to some little line drawings she made showing how to wrap up a Chicken Kiev.

I have deviated from her recipe–I don't dip the Kievs in egg, and I make a little sauce to pour over them. Two Kievs per person is really a very ample portion. —Bevi

Test Kitchen Notes

"If all you'd ever really like for dinner is garlic-y, wine-y, herby butter sauce by the spoonful, keep reading. If you're also desperate for a way to work boneless, skinless chicken breasts into a weeknight dinner that isn't bone-dry and lifeless, keep reading quickly!

Popular in Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish cuisines, Chicken Kiev is made by wrapping a flattened chicken breast around a lump of cold butter and garlic, and then frying the whole happy pouch in a breadcrumb coating. When you cut into one, the melted garlic butter spills out onto your spoon or whatever starch or steamed vegetable you've got on standby. It's ridiculously good—and weeknight doable!

What's more, you probably have 90% of the ingredients lurking in your crisper.

A Few Notes:
- If the idea of prepping and rolling up Chicken Kievs before a weeknight dinner sounds nutso, you can do all that the night before. Just leave them to set overnight rather than the allotted 30 minutes; all you'll need to do is sear them off before dinner the next day.

- Don't worry too much about making them perfectly seep-tight. Some of the butter will escape during cooking, which will just add to the flavor of the pan sauce.

- Feel free to swap in other herbs you have, or use just one (like parsley) rather than a medley.

- It would be a shame to let any of the butter sauce go to waste, so serve your Kievs with some sort of starch: hot white rice, crusty bread, even mashed potatoes would be nice. Or in bowls, with spoons.

Pick These Groceries Up On The Way Home:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 handful Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- A bottle of white wine (you'll only need a cup for the recipe)

We're assuming you already have salt and pepper, 3 garlic cloves, a stick of butter, 1/2 cup flour, 4 tablespoons olive oil, and a lemon—but if not, pick those up too!

And Get To Making It:

About an hour before you'd like to eat, prep your Kievs. Finely mince the garlic, chop the thyme and parsley, and chiffonade the basil; then stir these ingredients together in a bowl. Using a rolling pin or mallet, flatten each chicken breast to 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap, then discard the plastic wrap and slice each beast in half lengthwise—you'll now have a total of 8 long, flat chicken strips. Season them, then sprinkle each with 1/8th of the garlic-herb mixture, and place a tablespoon of cold butter that you've formed into a cylinder shape with your fingers on top of that. Now, wrap the chicken around the butter as tightly as possible (the idea is that no butter can escape during cooking!). Secure with a toothpick if you need some added security, roll them in flour, then leave uncovered in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

About 15 minutes before dinner, sear them off. Heat the oven to 300º F. Add the olive oil to a heavy skillet over medium heat, then brown each Kiev on all sides (some will have 3 sides, others 4, plus a top and bottom). Set them on a sheetpan in the oven to keep warm. Add the wine to the pan, scraping up the brown bits, followed by a small pat of butter if you're feeling it; reduce until shimmering, and add lemon juice if it needs some brightness. Spoon over each Kiev to serve, accompanied by a slice of that lemon." –Amanda Sims

"WHO: Bevi is a mother and avid home cook, who grew up working at her family's hotel. She lives in Vermont.
WHAT: Chicken breasts, classed up.
HOW: Pound your chicken breasts until they're thin, roll a generous amount of herby butter inside–then sear, bake, and make a pan sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Bevi's Chicken Kievs have all of our favorite things going on: herbs, garlic, lemon, white wine, and, of course, lots of butter. The chicken breasts stay moist when they're cooked this way–and the sauce lightens it all up. We can't wait to make this for our next dinner party." —The Editors

  • Makes 8
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, finely chiffonaded
  • 8 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Extra lemon juice for sauce
  • 8 lemon wedges
In This Recipe
  1. Use a mallet or rolling pin (or Amanda's favorite pounder!) to pound and flatten the chicken breasts. I place each breast between pieces of plastic wrap. Make the breasts as thin as possible, but try not to tear the breasts - 1/4-inch is a good thickness to aim for. You are going to slice each flattened breast in half.
  2. With the "smooth" side of the breasts down, lightly season the breasts with salt and pepper. Then, divide the garlic and herbs into eighths, and sprinkle each breast half with an eighth of the garlic and herbs.
  3. Shape each tablespoon of butter into a cylinder, and place in the center of the breasts The butter should be placed like this: ( - ). The goal is to wrap up the breasts so the Kievs are as airtight as possible to keep the butter from leaking out during cooking. I fold over the breasts on the sides first, and then top and bottom.
  4. Dust the Kievs in flour, very lightly, and then place them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so they can firm up. You may want to use toothpicks to keep the Kievs intact. Take them out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you are ready to brown them.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using tongs, place the Kievs in the skillet and brown nicely on all sides, including the tops and bottoms of the Kievs. I find that some of my Kievs have 3 sides; others - 4 sides - in addition to a "top" and "bottom". The browning may take about 15 minutes.
  6. Place the Kievs in a 300°F oven while you make the sauce.
  7. If you find that some of the Kievs have released their butter, that is fine - it happens all the time. To the skillet, add the wine and scrape all the good bits into the wine. If you need to add butter to the sauce, just a small pat will do. Reduce the sauce until it is nicely brown and shimmering. Taste -- and for a little brightness, you may want to add a tiny bit of lemon juice.
  8. Plate the Kievs and pour the sauce over them. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Recipe by: Bevi

Cooking is an important part of my past. I grew up and worked on our family resort. These days, I cook good food to please my friends and family.