Tomorrow, Sunday April 5th, marks the beginning of the end for Mad Men. It will be the premiere of the final seven episodes of a rather addictive and tantalizing show. Mad Men is responsible for making women swoon to wear long-line bras, girdles, stockings and slips under the stunning pencil skirts and dresses seen in Sterling Cooper Draper Price, expertly pecking away at typewriters and answering the phone for Mr. Draper and for making men hanker for a corner office with a drink cart on Madison Avenue, taking meetings and returning home to their picture perfect, Norman Rockwell homes and families. Mad Men has even renewed a longing for dining in elegant restaurants with timeless decor; the rich wooden paneling, cream linens and bringing back the food and drink that flows so freely in the hour of Mad Men we are treated to each week. I invite you to sit back, relax and drool over one of our favorite Mad Men recipes, straight from the Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, Chicken Kiev!
It’s origins cloaked in mystery and speculation, the Chicken Kiev at Jimmy’s La Grange on East 49th Street (a popular place for Mad Men to enjoy lunch), should be pierced with a dagger with all the flourish that Jimmy’s demanded, allowing the perfectly sumptuous butter to squirt at the diner. At first, Don seems wary of the idea of having to wear a bib at dinner on his first date, post-divorce with Bethany, a beautiful outgoing friend of Jane Sterling’s, insists on “having some fun at dinner,” so he makes it two Chicken Kievs.
Most sources agree that Chicken Kiev is a French creation (which explains the arduous prep process), whether by Napoleon’s chef during the march to Moscow, during the Court of Alexander I by French Chef Carême or French Chef Nicolas Appert, no one knows for sure but all can agree that the Russian Royalty favored French cuisine in the 18th century, even if Kiev is actually in it’s neighboring Ukraine, and that Chicken Kiev is certainly a buttery, crunchy matryoshka of historical French cuisine and Russian culture.
In the service of our appetites, I slaved away at making these stuffed and rolled breasts, as perfect as Jimmy’s would have prepared them for Don and Bethany’s date. Jimmy Prigioni and his flair for telling his clientele what they would be having for dinner and his restaurant in all of it’s ornate grandeur, with dimly lit tables where a coupe fits perfectly and three is one too many. The light just bright enough to see your date’s face across the table, while the likes of Tony Bennett performed in the background and you might catch a glimpse of Marilyn (you know which one), enjoying the same, Chicken Kiev.
As recommended in the Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, we served the Chicken Kiev over a bed of hot (wild, long grain) rice and a side of buttered veggies. The updated versions of Chicken Kiev have herby, flavored butters inside and while I thought I would miss that, there is something rather decadent about the simplicity of sweet butter rolled into a chicken breast that is just to die for! All the butter in this dish may be taboo now, but there is nothing quite like a well made Chicken Kiev that bursts at the slightest provocation, crisp buttered veggies, rice and a glass (or three) of champagne to make an awkward first date a little more manageable and certainly more enjoyable!
Considered to be fine Russian cuisine and despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes toward immigration, Chicken Kiev still turns our heads and makes us swoon, possibly as much as Don’s salacious appetite for whiskey and women. This was one of our favorite Mad Men themed meals that we have enjoyed over the course of Season 7, and one that will leave dinner guests amazed and bellies content.
(slightly adapted, noted by asterisks) from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, which adapted the Russian Tea Room Cookbook by Faith Stewart-Gordon & Nika Hazelton (Richard Marek Publishers, 1981)
NOTE: The Russian Tea Room Cookbook offers two methods for cooking the chicken. One calls for frying the chicken and the other for baking the chicken. We offer both methods below. The cookbook suggests serving Chicken Kiev over a bed of hot cooked rice, with buttered vegetables.
INGREDIENTS: yields 6 servings
- 12 Tablespoons Sweet Butter, chilled
- 6 Chicken Breast Halves, tenderloins removed
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Eggs Beaten
- 2/3- 1 Cup Fine Dry Bread Crumbs
- Oil, for cooking chicken
1. Cut butter into six equal pieces (2 tablespoons each). With your hands, shape each butter portion into a roll 3 inches long and 3/4 inches thick (you can shape the butter inside a piece of waxed paper). Wrap butter portions in wax paper and freeze while preparing chicken breasts.
2. Trim any fat from breasts. Lay each breast on waxed paper, cover with another sheet of waxed paper, and with a mallet or rolling pin pound meat to 1/2-inch thickness. Pound meat as thin as possible at the edges since the thinner the edges, the easier it will be to seal them firmly to prevent butter from oozing out during cooking. Be careful not to tear the meat. Each pounded breast should be approximately 8 inches long and 5 inches wide.
3. To assemble, gently peel off the waxed paper from each breast. Sprinkle one side of each breast with salt and pepper. Place one piece of butter in the center of the chicken breast. Fold two sides over the butter. Fold one end of the breast and roll up the rest of the way. *Secure the ends with toothpicks, if necessary, then wrap each breast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours*
4. *Remove the rolled and stuffed chicken breasts from the refrigerator.* Coat each cutlet on all sides with flour, shaking off excess. Dip lightly into beaten eggs, shaking off excess. Roll in bread crumbs, coating the cutlets evenly and shaking off the excess. *Wrap each cutlet in plastic wrap,* place in one layer on a platter and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
5. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan or fryer; the oil should reach 3-4 inches up side of pan. Heat until oil registers 360F on a thermometer or until a 1-inch bread cube dropped into the hot oil turns golden in slightly less than a minute. Fry 3 cutlets at a time in hot oil until golden brown. The cutlets should not touch each other during frying. Turn twice, using tongs or 2 spoons for turning and for removing the cutlets from the hot oil; this will prevent their being pierced. Drain on paper towels and transfer to heated serving dish.
Alternative method: Preheat oven to 350F. Fry cutlets for 3 minutes, turning once. Place cutlets in a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Turn over twice while cooking using tongs or two spoons. Drain on paper towels before serving.
For more Mad Men meal ideas and cocktails, check the Mad Men Season 7 Premiere Menu!
This post was sponsored by The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Please read my Disclosure Policy for further information.