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During a visit to Ukraine, we learned that the chicken Kyiv familiar to most of us—a butter-filled roll of dry, tasteless chicken cutlet encased in an equally bland breadcrumb shell—is not how the iconic dish began. Historically, the meat used to make it was ground chicken, a way of using up bits and scraps. We tasted several versions of this, all of them great. Unlike whole chicken breast, ground meat toughens less during cooking, and it can be seasoned throughout. Moreover, it absorbs some of the butter as the filling melts. Based on the recipes taught to us by chefs Ievgen Klopotenko and Igor Bragin, we developed an oven-baked, old-school chicken Kyiv that’s light yet rich and remarkably delicious. Dill, lemon, paprika, Parmesan cheese and fresh ginger—an ingredient once common in Ukrainian cooking—flavor the dish. To crush the dill seeds, if using, use a mortar and pestle, or the bottom of a skillet. For make-ahead convenience, the filled and shaped chicken can be frozen up to 24 hours before breading (to prevent drying, cover with plastic wrap once the exteriors are firm); the fully frozen chicken can be breaded and cooked straight from the freezer, but requires an extra five minutes in the oven. Mashed potatoes are an excellent accompaniment.
tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, divided