Once again, I apologize for the picture. One day, I'll do some research on food photography, but right now, I'm more interested in the actual cooking.
Today's meal comes with a few tips and tricks that I've picked up recently. My grandmother gave me this huge paper grocery bag (like the bags you get when you pick up a huge catering at Panera), full of Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. Literally, almost two years' worth. So, I've slowly been going through them and ripping out the pages with yummy sounding recipes on them. Along the way, I came across a couple of cool tips that I put to use in this recipe.
To begin. Chicken Kiev is usually fried. Since I'm on the "healthy eating" kick (mind you, we do still get our fryer out on a semi regular basis), today, we bake it. Honestly, with the butter that makes it "kiev," you really don't miss the friedness. I served it up with some mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini. Our local market had these huge zucchini (and by huge, I mean about 10" long and 4" thick) priced at 3 for $2. (I love mom and pop shops!), so I grabbed on the last time I was there. That was about a two weeks ago. I'm still finding ways to use it all up! Especially since I'm the only one who will eat it.
The recipe as written by Thank Your Body calls for things like sprouted flour and other randomness that I just don't have, so I changed it up a bit to go as follows...
1 Chicken breast, halved lengthwise1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c plain breadcrumbs
1/4 c butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of black pepper
At least 2 hours before you plan on cooking, combine your butter, zest, thyme, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. You're making an infused butter, so it needs to sit to re-solidify and, well, infuse. Here's where Rachel Ray tip #1 comes in... if you are doing this when you get home from work, or forgot to take the butter out ahead of time, grab your box grater and large grate that butter! Fine grating will just make a big mess... definitely use the larger side of the grater. This will allow your butter to soften in a quarter of the time then leaving it a whole stick! After you combine the ingredients, press them into a ball, or oval or whatever shape you fancy, wrap it in plastic and pop that baby into the fridge. As I said, give it at least 2 hours before cooking for maximum flavor. You can even make it the day before, if you are up for dinner planning way ahead of time.
Tip #2: Also from Rachel.. don't know what to do with the rest of that lemon now that you've used up some of it's zest? Zest the rest of it and save it for next time. You can either dry it in a 200 deg oven for about an hour or pop it in a bag or small container and freeze it until you need it again. Instead of taking the time to zest mine, I simply peel it with a potato peeler (just the rind, don't get the white pith), dry it for about 2 hours and then pop it in my coffee grinder (which has been used for everything BUT coffee) and into a spice jar for safe keeping.
When you're ready to cook, prepare your dredge first. In 3 separate bowls, place your egg, bread crumbs and flour. Now, the original recipe says to add a little salt and pepper to your chicken and to your bread crumbs. I like to kick it up a notch, as you can easily lose the flavor of the breading that way. I season all three parts of the dredge, and I season them LIBERALLY. I put salt and pepper in all three. To the flour and breadcrumbs, I added some thyme (to tie into the butter flavor) and some paprika (mainly for color). If you ever wonder how some of the fried food you see gets that nice, brown color, it's paprika in the breading. Yes, it's red, but it helps color the flour during cooking.
Once your dredge is set up, take both halves of the breast and pound them out slightly until they are about 1/4" thick. Take out that butter and slice off about 2 tablespoons worth (I found that's all I could fit in my chicken. If you want to try to fit more, have at it). Anyway, cut about 4 slices, placing 2 in each breast half. Wrap the chicken around the butter. I tend to do mine burrito style so I'm sure all of the edges are sealed. Then, into the flour, into the egg, into the breadcrumbs and into a baking dish.
Bake them at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees(F).
Here's my little tip.. and tip #3.. When making your mashed potatoes, use the rest of the infused butter instead of plain butter. It flavor ties the potatoes to your chicken, and you don't have to wonder what on earth you're going to do with 2T of this garlic, lemon, thyme butter in the future.
My mashed potato recipe is pretty basic. One potato per person, 1T butter per potato (yes, restaurant style. That's what happens when you and your hubs has worked in a kitchen), milk to the desired creaminess and salt to taste. Viola.
My zucchini is also pretty basic. Tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes. I put it in 10 minutes after my chicken so everything was done at the same time.
Some of you may be wondering.. but what about the calories? All that butter.. ughhh.. My theory.. Yes, I'm counting calories, but I refuse to sacrifice taste..
To better calculate the calories, and since Emily was napping during dinner prep time, I remeasured my dredge post dredging to see just how much of it is actually used. I know that 1 egg is about 3T of liquid (1T yolk, 2T white). So, the dredge used about 1T of egg total. It used about 1T of the flour mixture and 2T of breadcrumbs. I used these numbers when considering the calories.
Overall, one piece of chicken comes out to 261 calories. One serving of mashed potatoes comes out to 222 calories and one serving of zucchini (about a 1/2c) comes out to 60 calories. Total dinner: 543 Calories.
Not too shabby.