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Donella's recipe of the week
Suprême de Volaille d'Ancenis
Unsurprisingly as we are talking about France and French food, debate, counter-claim and even confusion seems to surround the exact origins and nature of Chicken Supreme. There are hundreds of different recipes, and this is probably because the term 'supreme' defines the cut rather than the mode and contents. To further confuse the issue, in some places Chicken Supreme may be called Chicken Kiev, though one usually bears little relationship to the other. In fact and on the subject of confusion of origin, Chicken Kiev has absolutely nothing to do with Russia. It is widely believed (at least in France) that a Frenchman should take the credit for the idea of rolling chicken breast around herbed butter and then coating it with herby breadcrumbs.
Nicolas Appert was a 19th-century brewer, confectioner, pickler and chef who came up with the early principles of canning and preserving food. In his spare time he invented Chicken Supreme, but it was given the name Kiev in some quarters to flatter and please wealthy Russian immigrant diners.
This is a version peculiar to the very attractive riverside town of Ancenis, although the recipe may seem to have more in common with KFC than Kiev
One egg yolk
One tsp of mustard
Two tbsp of chopped chervil
Two tbsp of chopped parsley
A tsp of chopped tarragon
Two tbsp of breadcrumbs
Four chicken breasts
40g of butter
Some thyme (for the butter sauce)
Two tbsp of olive oil
Mix the mustard and egg yolk in a bowl.
Mix the herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning in a shallow dish.
Brush the breasts with the egg mixture and roll in the herby breadcrumbs until they are well coated.
Brown the coated breasts over a medium heat in butter and oil for around fifteen to twenty minutes.
Incise the breasts, insert the thyme butter and serve with mashed potatoes if you agree with the locals that they will go best with the dish.
Cooks’ comments: Making thyme butter is as simple as chopping the herb leaves finely and then mixing it in with the butter. Avoid using stalks or any part of the plant which will make its presence known unpleasantly when in the mouth. As discussed elsewhere, chervil can be a neglected culinary item outside France. It is a delicate herb, related to parsley, is said to have been introduced to Europe by the Romans and has long featured large in French cookery.