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Don't Look for Chicken Kiev in Kiev

5. November 2012 by Lorena 0 Comments

Chicken KievWhen you’re thinking of dishes you’d like to try during your visit to Ukraine, does Chicken Kiev come to mind? If so, you could be disappointed. Chicken Kiev does not come from the city it is named for. It is actually most likely the invention of a chef in Moscow.


According to Russian food scholar William Pokhlyobkin, Chicken Kiev was invented at the Moscow Merchant’s Club in the early 20th century, but did not pick up its moniker until much later. The Merchant’s Club, in an effort to compete with similar institutions in St. Petersburg, opened a luxury restaurant for club-members only. They hired the best chefs in Europe to create dishes for the club. Chicken Kiev, a dish inspired by the French Chicken Cordon Bleu, was one of the club’s first creations. The classic recipe for the dish involves pounding a boneless chicken breast flat, rolling it around an herbed butter filling, then breading and either baking or frying it. It is typically served with fried potatoes and green peas.  


The dish fell into obscurity when the Merchant’s Club closed in 1915 or 1916. Chicken Kiev did not return to the limelight until it was served at a 1947 dinner for Ukrainian diplomats returning from, depending on which source you believe, either Berlin or Paris. In honor of the Ukrainian diplomats, the dish became known as Chicken Kiev. It grew to be a regular part of the menu at tourist-oriented restaurants throughout the Soviet Union. Restaurants in New York served the dish to attract Russian immigrants in that area.


Chicken Kiev has fallen off the radar at fine restaurants as food fashions have changed. Diners seeking the dish report that they’ve had little luck. However, you may be able to find it at Ukrainian or Russian restaurants. Many people also choose to make their own for the best results. Recipes abound online. Check for one with great reviews, then dig in to this classic Russian dish.



Photo: Dani P.L.