Published March 1, 2006.
Crisply breaded and packed with herb butter, this Russian transplant was a star of the 1960s American restaurant scene. Can a home kitchen do it justice?
We encountered three major problems in reconstructing this classic dish of pounded, breaded, and fried chicken breast stuffed with an herb butter that melts into a sauce. First, when we deep-fried the chicken, the crust became so homogenized that the chicken resembled a corndog. When we tried pan-frying (shallow frying) instead, the coating browned unevenly and the sides remained pale. Finally, the compound butter leaked out of the chicken as it cooked.
We wanted chicken with a crisp, evenly browned coating that contained a delicately flavored butter sauce--with no leaks.
We focused on the biggest problem first: getting the butter to survive cooking without leaking. The answer was to butterfly the chicken breast--slicing it lengthwise, almost in half, and then opening it up to create a single, flat cutlet. We pounded all but the outer perimeter to a 1/4-inch thickness, further pounding the edges to a 1/8-inch thickness. We then placed a slab of herb butter on the cutlet and rolled it up like a burrito (the cutlets' extra-thin pounded edges kept the cutlets from unfolding). Chilling the rolled cutlets for an hour in the refrigerator further sealed the seams. To achieve a decent crust, we had to abandon the frying concept all together. By coating the chilled bundles in toasted bread crumbs, we were able to roast them in the oven, eliminating the messiness and homogenous crust we’d gotten with deep-frying and the spotty browning we'd gotten with pan-frying. We also improved the butter component of the dish. While traditional recipes call for butter spiked with parsley and chives, we created a more flavorful option with shallots, tarragon, and a squeeze of lemon juice.list of recipes