Saturday, May 21, 2016

Quick Weeknight Chicken Cordon Bleu

Literally translated from French as 'blue ribbon chicken', this recipe is actually a chicken breast stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. This is the simple week night version you can put together in a few minutes and then bake it while you finish up other side dishes.

Julian's quick Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Ham and Cheese
The classic version requires pounding out the chicken and then stuffing and rolling. But this version, just slices a pocket into the boneless, skinless chicken breast, slips in the cheese and ham and closes it with trussing needles or toothpicks. Granted, some of the cheese may melt out of the chicken while baking, but you still have plenty left for flavor. While pounding and rolling is more effective at keeping the cheese inside, the effort is more than I'm willing to do on a weeknight.

While the name may lead us to believe this is a French dish from the famous cooking school of the same name, the origins of the dish are as a schnitzel filled with cheese from Switzerland. It is thought to have been first referenced in a Swiss cookbook from 1949. The earliest American reference to "chicken cordon bleu" was in The New York Times in 1967 and of course referred to classic pounded and rolled version.

Making the breast pocket.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 slices deli ham
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Food release or canola oil

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise but not cutting all the way through. You are making more of a pocket in the breast.

Place a ham slice, folded in half in necessary into the breast pocket. Do the same with the cheese. Each breast half gets two slices cheese. Using toothpicks or a trussing needle, close the pocket as tightly as possible with the cheese and ham inside. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish prepared with food release (Pam) or canola oil.

Into the melted butter, stir in the bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Spoon the breading on top of each piece, patting down with your finger.

Bake 20-30 minutes until cooked through a meat thermometer reads 165F in the center. Remove from the oven and serve.

Pinned closed with a turkey trussing needle before baking.

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