Je Ne Sais Quoi
Well, its back to rain here in Boston. I guess the nice weather just wasn’t meant to last! When the weather is damp and cold I would much rather spend my evening in a warm kitchen than out running errands until the sun goes down. When I know I have nothing to accomplish except for an excellent meal, I like to give myself a bit of a challenge.
I was inspired by Andrea’s chicken last night, which made me think about my previous stuffed chicken fiasco. It wasn’t bad, per say, but it was just…”eh”. I wanted to finally make chicken that was elegant, flavorful, and actually stuffed instead of half-stuffed-half-topped with some random ingredients. I feel that I have come along way since goat cheese stuffed chicken; it was time for some je ne sais quoi!
Yes, leave it to me to make a meal around one of the only French phrases I know (the other one being je suis perdu: I am lost). Directly the phrase came out of my mouth, one dish entered my brain: chicken cordon bleu.
The epitome of stuffed chicken, the classic dish of chicken breast stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, breaded and baked to perfection. The name cordon bleu, a description shared also by a top notch culinary school, comes from King Henry III of France’s L’Ordre du Saint-Esprit, an order of knights created to fight Catholicism. The Order was symbolized by a blue cord worn around the neck (cordon bleu). As the knights became associated with honor and distinction, so the “blue ribbon” became associated with excellence. Chicken Cordon Blue is literally “Blue Ribbon Chicken”, and if I was going to try stuffed chicken again, I would only try the best. (Source)
Chicken Cordon Bleu
1 large chicken breast
3 slices of ham
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1 slice of bread (I used gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg white
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil (I used a Pam spray)
Preheat oven to 400* and spray an oven safe dish with Pam.
The first step is to turn your large chicken breast into cutlets. I managed to get three from my large chicken breast, but you may only get two. (The rest of the recipe will speak as if there are 3 pieces. If your chicken isn’t thick enough, just change the number to 2).
On a large cutting board, hold the breast flat side down with your hand (you cannot be afraid of raw chicken here! It doesn’t bite :) ). Run a sharp knife parallel to the cutting board and slowly cut through the breast, slicing it in thirds (depending on thickness). Do this slowly, you don’t want to accidentally dip too low or too high with your knife and cut your cutlet short. Go all the way to the end. You will end up with three separate pieces of chicken.
Now, the fun part. Take each piece one at a time, and place it between two pieces of cling film (saran wrap). Find a blunt object: mallet, rolling pin, empty wine bottle; and start pounding the cutlet, thinning it out in all directions. Make sure you especially widen the piece, as you will need it to roll around itself. Make sure you don’t tear any holes in the chicken, it should be about 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick. Get some aggression out! Ba-bam!
Place the three thin cutlets next to each other on a cutting board. Top each with a piece of ham and 1/3 of the grated cheese. Roll up the chicken, tucking in the ends if possible. You can use wooden toothpicks to make this easier. You essentially want to try to close any holes cheese may seep out of. Let them rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Take the piece of bread and put in the food processor until crumbs form. Add salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Pour onto a small plate. On another plate put the egg white.
When the chicken is ready, roll each piece in the egg white, then the breadcrumbs, and place on the baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Make sure to check about 10 minutes in to make sure there is not too much cheese spilling out :)
I served this with garlic mashed sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Slice the chicken and enjoy!
Ooh la la! I can’t believe this actually worked! Not only did I correctly stuff a chicken breast (after making my own cutlets) but the melty Swiss cheese stayed in its chicken home, to only ooze out in all of its glory upon cutting with a sharp knife. The Swiss, ham, and chicken worked perfectly together, and the chicken was kept moist by its delicious stuffing. The crust was heavenly, the perfect French herbs to add to the dish. The earthy sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables complimented the chicken well, adding a variety of colors and flavors that made me want a piece of everything in each bite. And this is a much healthier version too, with less cheese and bread, it can be eaten to fulfillment! I’m glad there were three cutlets, because one wasn’t enough :) I give this recipe a cordon bleu! (I know, so cheesy).
What is your favorite way to stuff chicken?