Cooking On A Budget: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu


We are going retro recipe today. Taking you back in time to the 60's era. Remember that Chicken Cordon Bleu gained popularity in upscale restaurants of that era and the earliest reference I found was from The New York Times around 1967.
The dish originated in Switzerland as "Veal Cordon Bleu" during the 1940's and from there emerged the dish using Chicken, and published in a cookbook in 1949. Translating from the French, Cordon Bleu means "Blue Ribbon". The dish is made roulade style where the meat is pounded down and then a layered with ham or prosciutto inside along with an easy melting cheese like Gruyere or Swiss. It is then rolled in bread crumbs and either fried or baked. Some versions even have the prosciutto or ham on the outside.
My version is made with an inexpensive deli ham and Swiss Cheese. In fact when I told my husband what I was making he eyeballed me and said, "I thought you didn't like ham with melted cheese." He knows I am not overly fond of that combo. I replied that I would like to give it a go and I am so glad I did. This totally changed my perspective and I must admit that it was wow. The recipe is simple - the only lengthy part really is pounding down the chicken breast thin enough to roll it with the ingredients added.
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tbsp. oil (vegetable, canola or olive oil)
  • 4 slices deli ham (I used Imported Ham)
  • 2 large slices Swiss Cheese (or four of the sandwich size)
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs (you could use regular plain crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt + 1/8 tsp. for the flour mixture
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper + 1/8 tsp. for the flour mixture
  • 1 whole egg - beaten with a splash of water
For the Breading Station:
  1. In a bowl combine the flour and the 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well.
  2. In another bowl combine the egg and water and whisk well.
  3. Then in a third bowl combine some crushed panko bread crumbs with the granulated garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt and black pepper. I crushed the panko in a large plastic zip bag and added the spices in and shook well to combine. I poured out in a dish what I needed and saved the rest of the untouched bread crumbs and labelled the bag with the description and date to save for using in another recipe. NEVER SAVE THE crumbs that have already been used for the protein; only the untainted crumbs can be used again.

I told you to get two large breasts like the ones shown here as they pound down to a very large surface to roll when you are done.

After you have washed and prepped and dried your chicken breasts, pound them down between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch or a little less. Try to get them as evenly pounded as possible.

Next salt and pepper the top of the breast. You want flavor on the inside so sprinkle as much or as little of the seasonings to suit your own taste.

Lay the cheese down on the breast, then the ham. I used one big slice of the cheese and 2 slices of ham for each breast.

Roll up the breasts and secure using butcher's twine secure the roulade. Just remember to remove the string when serving the finished product!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. After you have these two large beasts under control - rolled and tied, roll them first in flour and shake off excess.
  3. Dip and roll in the egg mixture, drain excess and roll in the panko mixture pressing the crumbs onto the roulade.
  4. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil (I used regular olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. When the butter melts and bubbles and the pan is hot add in the roulades and brown all sides using tongs to GENTLY turn them in the pan. About a minute or so per side. When they are nicely browned, turn off the heat and pop them in the preheated 350° oven and bake uncovered for 26 minutes.
THAT IS NOT A TYPO - yes 26 minutes on the dot. Your chicken should come out perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. And look at the nice golden brown crust on the outside! My husband absolutely loved this dinner - when he compliments me over and over and goes for seconds I know that it was a huge hit. And you may be wondering what I served it over so I'll tell you that was excellent as well - cauliflower and potato mash. Next recipe post will detail how I did that.

The total cost for the Chicken Cordon Bleu, serving four portions worked out to $7.57, $1.89 per person.

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