Autumn is my favourite time in the kitchen with a cornucopia of natural bounty reaching my kitchen. From brown crabs to chanterelles and squash, it really is the season of mellow fruitfulness.

It’s also when the Christmas reservations gather pace!

The forthcoming festivities prompt mixed reactions from many chefs. Business may be brisk but most of my friends haven’t trained and worked hard just to stuff turkeys or steam puddings for a month. For that reason, we’ve always done things differently at Ondine.

For a start, we are predominantly a seafood restaurant so that helps set us apart. In ten years in business, we’ve never served turkey or Christmas pudding. Our customers will be doing that at home so they are looking for something else when they visit us, so our seasonal menu is all about dishes that are popular and great to eat with friends or colleagues. Dishes like our chicken kiev with parsley sauce.

Most of us will have grim memories of greasy chicken kievs , scalding your mouth with overpowering, volcanic garlic butter, but when it is done well, you remember why it is a classic. As Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year at the National Restaurant Awards and a venue famed for seafood, I also know the stakes are high putting a dish like this on my menu. It has to deliver and that comes down to attention to detail.

The chicken has to be top quality and cooked well, the parsley sauce needs to be flavoursome and the potato puree must be smooth and unctuous. Crucially, it must be a balanced dish with enough garlic to make it interesting but not so much to make the mistletoe redundant. I think this recipe delivers all of that.

It sits perfectly on our Christmas menu alongside baked scallops and halibut bordelaise but I suspect the whiff of the garlic butter and the decadence of the potato puree may make Chicken Kiev a firm festive favourite at Ondine this year.

To follow we will serve a chocolate delice with white chocolate sorbet or toasted brie truffles but I suspect the big hit will be our take on a classic sherry trifle. In my opinion, you can’t have Christmas without trifle although, of course, ours will have a bit of a special twist.

Christmas is all about tradition and you play with that at your peril. We may be a turkey-free zone but I know the recipe below will deliver that warm sense of nostalgia and feeling pleasantly full that sums up what the next few weeks are all about.

Ondine is located at 2 George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. For more information, visit or call 0131 226 1888.

Chicken Kiev with Parsley Sauce

Serves 4


For the chicken:

4 corn fed chicken breasts

80g winter chanterelles

50ml olive oil

100g plain flour

100g panko breadcrumb

4 egg yolks, whisked

Salt and pepper, to season

For the parsley sauce:

100g fresh parsley

100g garlic, peeled

100ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper, to season

For the potato purée:

500g red rooster potatoes

300g unsalted butter

100ml double cream

Salt and pepper, to season


1. Start by preparing the parsley sauce. Bring two small pans of water to the boil. Add the garlic to one of the pans. Cook until soft, then remove and place into a blender. Add the parsley to the other pan and blanch for ten seconds before removing a refreshing in iced water.

2. Once the parsley is cold, remove from the water, squeeze dry and add to the blender along with the chicken stock and blitz into a smooth paste. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.

3. Next, prepare the chicken. Carefully butterfly the breast in between two sheets of lightly oiled clingfilm. Using a rolling pin, lightly beat the breast to flatten it slightly then spoon a small amount of the parsley sauce into the centre. Roll the chicken breast into a cylinder shape using the cling film, then tuck in the sides and leave to rest in the fridge overnight.

4. The next day, remove the chicken breasts from the fridge and the cling film, dust in the flour, then the egg yolks, followed by the panko breadcrumbs and set aside.

5. For the potato purée, place the potatoes, with the skin on in a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring the pan to the boil and cook until soft, then remove from the pan and peel the skin off. Pass the potatoes through a sieve making sure there are no lumps, then set aside.

6. Bring the double cream to the boil then add the butter until completely emulsified and reduce the heat. Fold in the puréed potatoes and season well.

7. Next, cook the chicken. Heat a deep fryer to 170°C in your preferred oil and fry for eight minutes. Once the time has passed, insert a temperature probe and ensure the chicken is cooked through, then set aside on some drying paper.

8. To assemble, quickly sauté the mushrooms in a small pan in a little seasoned oil. Heat the potato puree and spoon on to each of the plates. Cut each of the chicken kievs in half, place them next to the potato purée on the plates, garnish with the mushrooms and a drizzle of some of the remaining parsley sauce.