Old Dirty Books

Chicken Kieve ready for the pan

Chicken Kiev“Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food. Craig Claiborne

That would be cooking from the oldest dirty book that I own, today, NY Times Cookbook, 1969.  It sits permanently on a cast iron book stand that I firmly believe is what has held it together to this point while in use or tightly sandwiched between 2 large volume books to make it appear as a fine upstanding addition to my cook book collection.  I love that book and tonight 3 recipes, Chicken Kiev, Italian Spinach, and Risotto a la Suisse…over the top butter night!

Certainly times have changed, when and where did that lovely dark green curly leaf spinach  disappear to, might as well call it “heirloom” like tomatoes and everything else, me included.  Now and then I can find it bagged in one market or I suppose I can grow it this year if I can find the seeds.  Then the instructions for the chicken started with boned and halved chicken breasts once  only available to specific small “gourmet” markets and butchers back in the 60’s otherwise start with a whole chicken and honing your chicken butchering skills was the chore of the day as I did back then, then to pound them out to an even thickness, good luck. 

We have come a long way in the world of food, but I still appreciate a back to basics approach from time to time, easy and elegant recipes made with readily available ingredients.  So today I have chosen 3 recipes from the book for dinner tonight, Kiev was a bit of a hassle as it is always a bit tricky to roll using a whole boneless breast and a task that I hope to improve on once again and I’m stuck with “baby spinach” instead of curly sturdy dark green leaves.  I chose a simple rice dish because I’m sitting here writing instead of prepping and cleaning my earlier mess, ah rinsed dishes good enough for now. 

I’ll probably come back to this post from time to time in order to perfect the chicken Kiev, but for now, we have what we have, might not ooze the butter since it was a chore to wrap the butter, might have a bit of a leak of butter, no matter my husband won’t notice and as for me, at least I tried. 

You dirty old book you, couldn’t resist the antique setting from my photo option, but the stains are real and very old…guess I have to give a nod to my ex, uh huh, for the book that probably started me on my way to fine cooking adventures.

My Oldest Dirty Book

Chicken Kiev adapted from NY Times cookbook/ancient “heirloom” edition

2 servings

4 tablespoons butter, softened, add about 2 tablespoons chopped chives and a little grated lemon zest, blend and roll into a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a little log, refrigerate or freeze until ready to place on chicken.  I make a little extra in case some of the butter escapes in the cooking process.  I have had better luck when I have frozen the seasoned butter.

2 whole boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness, season with salt and pepper
flour for dredging, season with salt and pepper
1 cup fresh seasoned  bread crumbs
2 eggs, whisked
Oil for deep-frying
salt and pepper

Place each chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them evenly to 1⁄4″ thickness. Season each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Cut chilled butter lengthwise into 2 equal-size bars; place 1 in center of each breast. Fold ends over butter; roll up each piece tightly to enclose butter.  I had to secure with 2-3 toothpicks as they were such fat bundles…remove picks before serving!

Dredge bundles in flour, egg, and finally bread crumbs, refrigerate for at least an hour (can be prepared several hours ahead of time).

Heat oil (360°) in a deep pan, enough to cover the chicken bundles, add chicken and gradually brown on all sides, drain for a few minutes on absorbent paper before serving.

Well, the butter did ooze out of the chicken after all and I’ll discuss the spinach and rice in another post, all in all a wonderful dinner.