Friday, April 13, 2012

Blue Ribbon Chicken Cordon Bleu

Blue Ribbon Dinner

I will admit I’m not the most organized cook in the world. Many days, I find myself walking the aisles of the grocery store trying to figure out what I am in the mood to cook for dinner.  Some days I know exactly what I want to make, and other days, like yesterday, nothing sparked my desire. I almost suggested to John that we order Chinese or go out. When I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner, he said, “Let’s go to the store”. Okay - so I guess I'm not getting out of cooking tonight. I love to cook, but sometimes, letting someone else do the cooking and the dishes is nice too!

Off to market we go...
So, as we perused the meat aisle, we contemplated pork, steak, lamb, and fish, but again, none of these choices inspired us. John had mentioned that he could grill some chicken. I reminded him that I had cooked chicken for the past two days, one night I fried some tenders, and the next night, I made chicken artichoke pasta. (I replicated this great recipe from a local eatery. I’ll share soon). As I was looking for inspiration in the prepared meats, I suggested to John that I could make Chicken Cordon Bleu.  We have a plan and we have the start of dinner. I ordered ham and Swiss cheese from the deli counter, grabbed a few ears of sweet corn, a box of spring mix and headed home.

With ingredients in hand, now I needed a recipe.  After a few minutes on Google, I found an easy recipe from celebrity chef Tyler Florence. I find that his recipes are always good and relatively easy to make.  I’ve made many of his entrees, and side dishes, one of my favorites are his Pork Schnitzel and Mushroom Spaetzle recipes. They deserve a blog of their own, because, it’s just that good. I promise I’ll share soon!

Tyler’s recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu (I also included the recipe at the bottom of the blog)

Zowee, the flavors in this dish complement each other so lovely, it’s a symphony of herbs and savory goodness. The French translation for Cordon Bleu means “Blue Ribbon”. Chef Tyler should be awarded a blue ribbon for this recipe.  Technically, this is not a “French” recipe. According to Wikipedia, Chicken Cordon Bleu is an American creation, drawing techniques from Chicken Kiev and schnitzel dishes. The earliest recipe reference is found in the New York Times in 1967. Wouldn’t you agree, whenever you coat meat in a hearty dusting of luscious breadcrumbs and herbs, you have the makings of a classic comfort meal.

Tyler’s recipe said to use panko breadcrumbs, but I have my own stash of homemade breadcrumbs. I started processing all of our leftover “good” breads . Now I have a healthy stock that I keep in the freezer and pull out when needed.   Don’t waste anything, right? I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, Tyler suggests using prosciutto and Gruyere, but since I got the ingredients before I found the recipe, I used what we bought. John said that he thought I made a good choice of ingredients, the sweet ham and Jarlsberg cheese nicely complemented the savoriness of the crumb mixture. Speaking of the crumb mixture, Tyler’s suggestion of fresh Thyme and garlic with the butter is a trifecta of flavor. The texture was perfect, and the aroma is ambrosial -earthy, warm and totally inviting.  F.Y.I. I didn’t add any salt to this recipe. Between the bread, ham, cheese and salted butter, (Don’t judge) I didn’t have to add extra.
This was incredibly easy to make - from beginning to end, I was finished in less than 45 minutes. Pound out the chicken breasts, layer with ham and cheese, and then dip, dip and dip again. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Ta-DA - you're done!

The three dipping process really sets the base – flour, egg and crumb mixture. I will have to work on my rolling process. My chicken wasn’t quite as picture perfect as in Tyler’s photo, but with practice, it will get better with time.  I cut the recipe in half, and I am sorry that I did because, I find myself wanting leftovers now. The chicken was seasoned perfectly! This was so much better than the pre-made options available in the grocery store. They’re okay, we’ve made them before, when I didn’t want to cook, however as I said, this is so easy and didn’t’ take a lot of effort. And if you are frustrated, pounding chicken is a fabulous stress reliever.

To complete our dinner, I made some fresh corn and spring mix salad with tomatoes drizzled with walnut oil and white balsamic vinegar. Thank you Tyler - this is definitely a recipe that I will add to my repertoire and make often! And it photographs beautifully.

I highly recommend you make this for your family or guests; you will be the star of the night. On a gourmet note: we enjoyed a lovely light white table wine – La Vieille Ferme – it balanced the richness of the chicken.

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence, 2008

Prep Time:  20 min
Cook Time:    25 min
Serves:    4 servings

    4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
    4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
    1/2 pound Gruyere, grated
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup panko bread crumbs
    4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
    1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    2 eggs
    Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay 2 slices of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix the breadcrumbs with thyme, garlic and kosher salt, pepper, and melted butter. The butter will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and season so the flour, the eggs and the crumbs are all seasoned.

Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and gently coat in the breadcrumbs. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil and carefully transfer the roulades onto it. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Cut into pinwheels and serve on top of Brussels Sprout Hash with Chicken Jus and Cranberry Chutney, if desired.

This really is an amazing dish to make, and I know that you too will receive a "Blue Ribbon" when you make this! 

Until then, I wish you good cooking!
SRQ Foodie

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