Splurge! Chicken Cordon Bleu

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I distinctly remember the first time I ever had it. I was at a country wedding, nestled at the foot of the gorgeous Bridger mountains. The groom had come galloping across the golden wheat field on a majestic white horse to claim his bride. His coat tails were flying, and his dismount was swift and graceful as he rushed to sweep her off her feet.

It was a blissful fairy-tale dream come true, and he was the definition of a knight in shining armor. My 12 year-old self was simply in awe.  The setting sun was just starting to cloak the hills with it’s golden light when the food was served.

I felt like I was in a palace, surrounded by the king’s servants, as the plates were set before us. The smell was divine. The crisp of the breaded coating, the tender, juicy chicken, the melted cheese…the combination was perfection itself. As the warm summer sun finished setting, and the golden light began to fade, I knew I had just experienced a true fairy tale.

Chicken Cordon Bleu may seem like something you only get at a catered event or fancy restaurant, but is really quite simple. There are a few steps involved, but the outcome is oh-so worth it, as you get a pretty impressive dish with relatively little effort. It’s perfect for any special occasion: birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s day, a wedding (!) or just a fun way of saying “I love you”.

Last night was one of those “just-wanna-say-I-love-you” nights, and I happily whipped this up for my own Knight in shining armor. The only thing missing was a gorgeous white horse and the warm summer sun 🙂

For the first step, you can do one of two things: pound out whole chicken breasts, or cut them in half. The first time I made this recipe, I pounded them out , but found that they were way too big for 1 serving. Since the chicken breasts I had were so thick, I decided to just cut them this time around. The serving size was perfect. If you do pound them out, use 4 chicken breasts instead of 2.

Top each piece of chicken with one slice of ham and one slice of swiss cheese, or enough to cover the chicken.

Add a small smear of Dijon mustard.

Put a few tablespoons each of butter and olive oil in an oven-proof pan set over medium-high heat.

Fill a bowl with bread crumbs. I’m a huge fan of substituting corn flake crumbs whenever bread crumbs are called for. Since they’re already crisped, they take less oil and less time in the pan to get that perfect crunch.

Roll up the chicken breasts, secure with toothpicks and roll in the crumbs. When the oil/butter is hot enough to sizzle when you touch the chicken down onto it, it’s ready. If you don’t have it hot enough, it will just soak into the food and make it soggy.

Cook for a few minutes, just until it releases easily from the pan and has a nice golden color. Give ’em a flip.

When they’re nicely browned and crisped on all sides, pop ’em in the oven, preheated to 425°F, for about 10 minutes to finish cooking all the way through.

When they’re almost ready, start your side. I choose peas because they’re super quick and I had them on hand. Broccoli or a nice salad would work well too.

Let the chicken rest for just a minute or so before slicing. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 chicken breasts (2 if you slice them, 4 if you pound them)
  • 4 slices ham, medium thickness (whatever kind of ham you prefer)
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese, medium to thin thickness
  • a few squirts Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-3/4 cup bread crumbs or Corn Flake crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Slice or pound chicken breasts, making sure they are evenly thick all around.
  3. Top with 1 slice each of ham and Swiss cheese.
  4. Squirt a small amount of Dijon mustard on top, about 1 tsp each.
  5. Roll up chicken breasts and secure with toothpicks
  6. Combine oil and butter in an oven-proof pan. Place over medium high heat.
  7. Coat chicken roll-ups in bread crumbs or Corn Flake crumbs. When oil/butter is hot enough to sizzle when you touch the chicken to it, add the chicken rolls to the pan. Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, or until the chicken releases easily from the pan and the coating is nicely golden and crisped.
  8. When all sides have been pan fried, place the whole pan in the preheated oven to finish cooking, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your roll-ups.
  9. When chicken is done, let it rest for about a minute. Serve as a whole roll-up, or slice before serving.
  10. Enjoy!

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