We’re big fans of chef Justin Warner and his former Brooklyn restaurant Do Or Dine, which once served up things like dumpling nachos and foie gras doughnuts. So we’re especially excited about his new book, The Laws of Cooking, which includes even more inventive recipes, like this creative spin on traditional chicken Kiev.
Hotel butter — a delicious amalgam of butter and chopped soft herbs, traditionally used to melt slowly over a seared steak or crusty roll — is solid proof that herbs and fat are best friends. But sadly it has fallen out of fashion, and with it one of the greatest applications of hotel butter ever made, the chicken Kiev: pounded chicken cutlet wrapped around a log of straight hotel butter, then breaded and fried, so when you cut into it melted hotel butter dribbles out. No better reason to invent the Chicken Kiev Nuggs: tiny bites of chicken with a self-contained butter sauce. To re-create fast-food flavor, I’ve opted out of using fresh herbs in favor of “poultry seasoning.”
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted buter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 pounds ground chicken, or boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 eggs, beaten
- vegetable oil, for frying
For the hotel butter
Put all of the ingredients for the hotel butter in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Place the butter in pastry bag or zip-top bag. Snip the tip, and pipe onto a sheet pan or plate into long bars about ¼ inch wide. Freeze at least 30 minutes until ready to use. Once frozen, break into 1-inch pieces.
For the nuggs
Pulse the panko and ½ teaspoon of the salt in food processor or a spice grinder. The goal is to get the panko to about half of its original size. Transfer the salted crumbs to a baking dish or shallow bowl.
If using unground chicken, chop the breasts into chunks. Pulse in food processor until finely chopped.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the ground chicken in your palm and flatten it slightly.
Place a 1-inch-long piece of frozen butter in the middle, then place an additional tablespoon of chicken on top and pinch the sides together to fully contain the butter.
Transfer the nuggs to a sheet pan, then lightly press all the nuggs with a second sheet pan so they flatten slightly and resemble the nuggets we all know and love.
Lightly dredge each chicken nugg in the beaten eggs, let the excess drip off, then dredge it in the panko. Land the dredged nuggs on the sheet pan. Repeat with all the nuggs. Place the sheet pan with the nuggs in the freezer until frozen solid, about 2 hours. (If you don’t have space in the freezer for a full sheet pan, place the nuggs on plates and stack.)
HOLD IT? You can transfer the frozen nuggs in this state to a zip-top bag and keep them frozen for up to a month.
Fill a Dutch oven halfway with oil, clip on a candy thermometer, and bring the oil to 375°F over medium heat. Preheat the oven to 200°F, and place an empty sheet pan fitted with a rack inside.
Working in batches, add the frozen nuggs to the oil and fry them until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer each cooked batch to the rack on the pan in the oven until all the nuggs are cooked.
PLATE IT! Pile these bad boys up in a paper cup or fry boat.
BREAK IT: Make your own poultry seasoning using fresh herbs and the HdP ["Herbs de Provence"] method [basically, drying the herbs inside paper towels in the microwave and then separating the leaves from the stems by rubbing the whole mass in circles on the base of a colander; the crumbled leaves fall through, while the stems will remain], but up the sage. Then use ground duck for a gamey version.