Spring always sneaks up on me. Even though I’ve been waiting for what feels like months for the weather to give us a bit of a break and for signs of life to start showing on the trees again I’m never ready for it when it does finally show it’s face. I never have my chilli seeds sown and I can’t let go of cooking carb-heavy, warming dinners well into asparagus season. So I’ve been cooking this saffron & lemon zest spring chicken kiev to nudge me into a more spring-y frame of mind. Its bright and zingy on the tongue with a colour like sunshine when you cut into it. It’s a version of the truffle butter chicken Kiev that Chris showed me on our first Feast! Feast! Feast! Dinner party learning day. It’s given me a chance to practice de-boning chicken at home (which I highly recommend, it’s so satisfying) and also gives me the bones I need to make all the stock I’m now obsessed with. If you don’t fancy wrangling a whole chicken into edible pieces just get some breasts instead. I’ll understand.
Saffron & Lemon zest butter ingredients. Enough for 2 chicken breasts
75g butter, I use slightly salted. zest of 1 lemon generous pinch of saffron. 2 cloves of garlic. salt and pepper
60g plain flour. 1 egg. Panko breadcrumbs enough to cover the chicken 150g
Make the flavoured butter first, you want the butter to be room temperature and squidgy so you can mix everything in really well. Lay out some cling film about 45cm x the width of your cling film and put the butter about 5cm away from end closest to you in a rough sausage shape, fold over 5cm bit and pull back towards you so the butter squishes together, roll to the end stopping every so often to pull the butter in towards you so it’s tight. It will spread out longer and thinner so get the loose ends of cling film and twist both sides together so it tightens around the butter forming a tight sausage of deliciousness, then freeze it. It needs at least 30 minutes and will store in the freezer for 3 months. When you’re ready to stuff your chicken breasts cut the butter into 1cm discs, enough for 3 per breast.
Turn oven on to gas mark 6/180degrees so it’s nice and hot when the chickens ready to go in.
Score lengthways down the chicken to about half the depth to start the pocket where the butter will sit in. At a right angle cut from the base of the first cut horizontally in either side making enough width for 1 disc of butter and enough length for 2-3 discs.
once the butter discs are in cover them up as much as you can with the pocket made by the chicken. You can cut a lengthways slice of the chicken and flatten gently with your palm to cover the gap more to avoid leakage.
Put the pané ingredients into separate bowls, season the flour in one bowl, give the egg a little mix in another and the put the Panko breadcrumbs in the last one. Dip the chicken into the flour first, get it covered and gently shake off any excess. Then into the beaten egg, shake off excess then get a good covering of Panko. You can repeat this process on each piece to get it super crispy (I don’t and it’s still incredible!) fry in a nob of butter and a glug of olive oil until browned on both sides then bake in the oven at gas mark 6 180degrees c for 20 mins for a small piece and up to 30 for larger bits. I’ve been eating this with polenta & chilli chips & leeks and it’s delicious.