Chicken Keifev

Story Recipe

I'm not the kind of guy who uses shopping lists. I prefer to head to the supermarket with no strict intentions. I cruise up and down the aisles grabbing whatever sounds good at the moment. I never worry about what to do if the store is out of something. I never let some recipe or plan force me to buy something that is starting to spoil or overpriced this week or only available from a company I don't like. I am free to explore new items or take advantage of a special sale - it's freedom, man.

The down side is that sometimes in the checkout line, I get a quizzical look from the cashier as she tries to find the produce code for some weird purple fruit or wonders how stoned you have to be to eat 17 boxes of organic Fig Newtons (on a scale of 1 to 10, it takes about a 7). The other day, the woman in line behind me, asked what I was going to do with three dozen frozen chicken breasts. I was looking at a picture of Gerard Depardieu on the cover of some gossip magazine and without thinking, I said, "Chicken Kiev for everyone!"

The woman turned down my invitation to join the feast, but she gave me an idea. I got on the phone and soon a table full of friends was headed over. Frank volunteered to bring the Vodka, Jennifer promised a pot full of Borscht, Leslie made Russian Tea and the rest of the gang filled out an all-Russian menu.

I let the chicken thaw in the fridge while I made a big batch of Buerre Vert (a whole pound) and listened to some Pussy Riot. I went for a nice Indica to keep the party happy. While the Buerre Vert was simmering, I hit the spice rack for some parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper. I was out of breadcrumbs, but there was a collection of old crusts in the back of the breadbox that I ran through the food processor. I had to run next door for a few eggs and I invited the Daltons to join us. Tammy Dalton didn't know Russian food, but she offered to bring blueberry tarts for dessert. Oil from the pantry was the last ingredient to go on the work counter.

When the Buerre Vert was ready, I mixed in a tablespoon and a half of tarragon and the same amount of parsley. Then in went a heap of salt and pepper. I tasted the mixture and decided it needed a bit more pepper. Once the flavor was right, I rolled the soft mixture in a piece of wax paper and stuck the roll in the fridge.

The fun part about making Chicken Kiev is flattening the chicken breasts. They were good and thawed when I put a breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then I beat the breast like Tarzan until the chicken was about a quarter of an inch thick. If you want to spare your hands, you can use a wooden mallet or one of those expensive meat pounders. Be sure to use the flat side so you don't grind up the plastic wrap and embed the bits in your chicken. Whether you do it by hand or with tools, be sure to shout and carry on so that you work out all of your aggression.

By the time I flattened all the chicken my arms were sore and there was not an aggressive thought left in me. The breasts were all stacked up and ready to be filled. Each one got a couple of tablespoons of Buerre Vert and a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Then, I folded the ends into the middle and rolled the chicken up like a burrito. You have to check each one carefully to make sure that it is completely sealed. Once they were rolled, they went back in the fridge. They should stay in there over night, but I had guests on the way, so I cranked the temp down and hoped for the best.

While the chicken chilled, I setup a pair of casserole dishes. One had the eggs beaten with a bit of water and the other had breadcrumbs. I put my trusted cast iron frying pan on the stove, poured in a half inch of oil and set the heat to medium. I put my cookie sheet on the other side of the stove with a rack in it and set the oven to warm. Getting this setup right prevent raw chicken germs from getting into the finished chicken. The idea is that everything moves from right to left through the cooking process. Nothing is allowed to go the other way. That keeps the germs on the raw side and the tasty food on the cooked side - away from the germs.

The procedure is simple -

1.       Dip a chicken bundle in the eggs. Get is coated all over.

2.       Move the gooey chicken to the breadcrumbs and roll it around until it is completely covered.

3.       Put the breaded chicken in the hot oil sealed side down. Don't put too many in the pan at once. You need room to roll the chicken around to brown all sides.

4.       Put the cooked chicken on the rack in the sheet pan and slip that into the oven to keep it warm

5.       Repeat until all the chicken is cooked.

By the time I was done, Frank showed up with the vodka and helped me clean up the mess. We were done and enjoying martinis when the guests started showing up. I got everyone to the table and set them up with a Chicken Kiev, borscht and some roasted potatoes. We all had fun cutting into the chicken and letting the butter squirt out. Everyone sopped up the butter with bits of chicken and potato while we discussed the role of Soviet literature in the space race. Ed won the prize by showing everyone how to do the Kazatskis dance.


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