Sunday, 4 March 2012

'Victims Of Their Own Success' #1 (in a series): Chicken Kiev with Rice Pilaf

Yesterday afternoon, while driving along the A41 towards the Finchley Road, I saw a bus emblazoned with an enormous poster of Lana Del Rey staring imperiously downwards, together with a command to: 'Buy Born to Die, her Number 1 album.'

Now, call me a cynic (I've been called worse, believe me) but my feeling is, because the album is already number one, that instead of this advert metaphysically suggesting that: 'Everyone's at the party why don't you join too?' it actually says: 'The cool kids, who don't make decisions based on bus billboards, have been to the party and left, so now we're looking for the out-of-touch sheep who do not have their finger on life's pulse, to sweep up their crumbs.'

This scenario made me think about zeitgeist in general - that maybe being popular is, paradoxically, actually bad for business?

Look at Burberry. The moment they started selling ten times their usual turnover, and then also found their counterfeited signature check design on baseball caps and rucksacks, they spent all the money they could on marketing to try to become exclusive again. The same goes for Cristal champagne and Hummer, the Army-tank-turned-school-run-child-conveyer vehicle.

I reckon that at soon as Lana Del Rey's management team okayed the bus advert; that was the moment Lana started work on her on her experimental studio album, possibly entitled "1734"; probably under a pseudonym.

The same is true for food. Smoked salmon is as delicious as it was in the 1980's, as is duck liver parfait and black forest gateau. But there isn't a chance you'd see any of these things on a modern restaurant menu - because all of these items can be bought in Lidl.

Today's recipe is as much a victim of its own success as any of the aforementioned examples- but I won't let it be remembered forever as a substandard supermarket ready-meal. Properly made, it is a delicious throwback to a simpler time, and I make it regularly, to the delight of my friends and family. I suggest you do too.

In terms of cost per serving, believe it or not, this dish is probably cheaper to make now than it was when Madonna was at number one on Top of the Pops with 'Holiday' (remember those days when Madonna was hotter than a Flaming Lamborghini? - now there's another 80's reference. Somebody stop me!). £3 per person is all, including the rice pilaf. Crack open the Mateus and let me know some of your old favourites.

Serves 4

Chicken Kiev


250g cold, salted butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
4 large chicken breasts, skinned, but with the mini-fillets still attached
2 tablespoons of flour
2 eggs, beaten
100g of panko crumbs, breadcrumbs or matzo meal
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

In a bowl, mix the butter, garlic and parsley together until fully amalgamated. Form the butter mixture into a long sausage and cut into four equal pieces. Refrigerate until needed. Remove the mini-fillet from the main chicken fillet. In the indentation where the mini-fillet used to be, insert a sharp knife into the main fillet and create a pocket 3cm deep and with a 3cm margin from each end. Place a butter portion into the cavity, secure tightly with the mini fillet and coat the whole fillet in flour. Dip the chicken in the beaten egg, followed by the panko. Repeat the egg and panko process one further time, and refrigerate the chicken again. In the meantime, heat up the oil, to a moderate temperature, in a large pan or wok. Fry the chicken until crispy and cooked-through (15 minutes approx). Repeat with the further three fillets and serve immediately with the rice pilaf.


Rice Pilaf


300g easy cook rice
600ml chicken stock
200g sweetcorn kernels
200g peas, frozen is fine, but not tinned
Fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped, for sprinkling

Add all ingredients to a pan and cook, on a low to moderate heat, until the stock has fully absorbed (25-30 minutes approx).Sprinkle with the chopped parsley immediately before serving.

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