The history of this dish is not well documented, and various sources make controversial claims about its origin.
Since the 18th century Russian chefs have adopted many techniques of French haute cuisine and combined them with the local culinary tradition.
The adoption was furthered by the French chefs, such as Marie-Antoine Carême and Urbain Dubois, who were hired by Russian gentry.
In particular the use of quality meat cuts, such as various cutlets, steaks, escalopes and suprêmes became widespread in the 19th century, and a number of original dishes involving such cuts were developed in Russia at that time.
The name côtelette de volaille means thus simply "chicken cutlet".
Despite the original French name, the Russian recipe is unknown in French cuisine, where the term côtelette de volaille refers to chicken breasts in general The general Russian term for chicken cutlets, kurinaya kotleta (куриная котлета), refers predominantly to minced cutlets, whereas kotleta de-voliay is applied exclusively to the stuffed chicken breast dish.
The latter name appears in the pre- and post-revolutionary Russian literature (in cookbooks as well as in fiction) since the beginning of the 20th century and is usually mentioned as a common restaurant dish.
The recipe in the classical Russian cookery textbook The Practical Fundamentals of the Cookery Art by Pelageya Alexandrova-Ignatieva (which had eleven editions between 1899–1916) includes a complex stuffing similar to quenelle (a mixture of minced meat, in this case the rest meat of chicken, and cream) but with butter added.
It also points out that "the cutlets de volaille are made from whole chicken fillets, like the game cutlets à la Maréchale".
Another Russian cookbook published at the same time gives basically identical recipes for côtelette de volaille and côtelette à la Maréchale and notes that the only difference between them is that the former are made of chicken while the latter are made of game, such as hazel grouse, blackcock, etc.
The term à la Maréchale ("marshal-style") denotes in French cookery tender pieces of meat, such as cutlets, escalopes, sweetbreads, or chicken breasts, which are treated à l'anglaise ("English-style"), i.e. Numerous recipes of such dishes, some of them with stuffings, are described both in Western and Russian cookbooks of the 19th century.
Among the stuffed versions, one finds a recipe for a "fowl fillet à la Maréchale" stuffed with truffles and herbs in The Art of French Cuisine of the 19th Century (1847) by Marie-Antoine Carême, Elena Molokhovets' A Gift to Young Housewives, the most successful Russian cookbook of the 19th century, has included since its first edition in 1861 an elaborate recipe for "hazel grouse à la Maréchale" stuffed with madeira sauce, portobello mushrooms and truffles.