Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Chicken Kiev

If you had asked me any time before about 6pm today, from where did the dish Chicken Kiev originate, I would have confidently answered: it was a dish specially created by Russian chefs for the opening of the Soviet pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition in 1954.  It wasn't.  There wasn't even a exhibition in Paris that year.  I'm probably thinking of the Paris exhibition of 1947 at which the Worker and Collective Farm Woman statue unveiled. Such is the fallibility of memory - mine in particular, in seems.

A Google search reveals that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the origin of the dish - much like the origin of the territorial split of Kievan Rus into Russia and Ukraine. Some say it was invented by Russian emigrés in Brighton Beach in the 1930's, others say that it was created by chefs in Kiev to welcome back a delegation from Berlin.  My 1990 Russian Cookbook by Seva Novgorodsev & Karen Craig states that the dish was created to celebrate the opening of the Moscow Hotel in Kiev in 1961.

Although taking the name from Ukraine's capital city, the dish is not Ukrainian.  Its name certainly has Russian (if not Soviet) origins, but it seems the dish was in fact imported from France.

Anyway, enough of this drivel! The reason I was thinking about Chicken Kievs at all was that I have just had my first crack at trying to make them.  I had got some chicken breast out for tea and was trying to decide what to cook with them.  I had some bread crumbs to use up, some creme fraiche, cheese and some spinach - all passed their use by date, and I thought "right, I'm gonna try to make Chicken Kievs, with a little twist.  The usual recipe involves wrapping garlic butter with chicken breasts and coating them with bread crumbs, then baking or frying them.  In my version, I combined the garlic with my out of date items.  The turned out great and the were delicious.

0/10 for presentation

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