The chicken breast is a cut to love – but decades of overcooking, bashing and beating the thing into submission for schnitzel, and cutting it into slithers to be dunked in egg wash and breadcrumbs for chicken strips have flung it to the bottom of the pile when it comes to cookery writing. I’m here today to ask you to reconsider this point of view.
As a piece of meat that has enough flesh that you can stuff it with something scrumptious, it has great potential for diverse application. As long as it is cooked correctly, chicken breast should be both tender and moist. Not dried out. It stands up well to some strong flavours whilst still being tasty in and of itself, making it as good a pairing for a strong chicken curry as for a light salad with just a little lemon zest, drizzle of olive oil and some greens.
Now I’m going to ask you to take a step further and suspend your disbelief as I delve into the seventies, when Chicken Kiev was all the rage alongside free love and bell bottoms. When you consider how much garlic goes into that delectable melting filling, it’s lucky that it was a decade of free love.
This breadcrumb crusted delight once came with a health and safety warning for the risk of hot butter splattering over unsuspecting guests as their knives cut through the chicken. However, on this occasion I’ve included a sufficient quantity of herbs so that shouldn’t happen! Watch out though!
- 2 free range chicken breasts
- 50g butter
- 1 tbsp each of fresh tarragon, parsley and chives
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 75g plain flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 50g breadcrumbs mixed with salt and pepper
- Green salad to serve
- Heat the oven to 180.
- Blend the butter with the herbs. Add the lemon zest.
- Cut into the chicken breast carefully. Start at the thick end with your hand over the breast and insert a sharp knife as far as you dare to create a cavity which you will fill with the butter mixture. Seal up the end of the chicken as best you can by pushing the butter in.
- Dust it with flour, then dunk it into the egg mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs. Now it’s ready to cook, and you can put it aside in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it, or cook immediately.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan, and lay the chicken breast in when it’s nice and hot. You want to hear the sizzle. Cook until golden on one side, and then gently flip over onto the other side.
- Once both sides are golden, put it in the oven for around 20 minutes. Serve with chips and a green salad with dressing.