The term “cordon bleu” was originally meant to be a blue ribbon that was a gift of honor awarded to the knights of the highest order, L’Ordre des chevaliers du Saint-Espirit, by France’s Henri III, in 1578. Today, the term “cordon bleu”, particularly when used in the culinary world, is a term that is associated with foods that have been prepared to a very high standard by outstanding cooks. It is also a very popular dish that has evolved over time. Most of the time when we think of cordon bleu, as a dish, we are thinking of it as a chicken cordon bleu, which evolved from chicken kiev. The dish as we most often think of it today, was created in Brig, Switzerland, around the 1940’s. It is a schnitzel, which is a meat that is wrapped around a cheese filling and is then breaded and either fried or pan-fried. It can be made from veal, ham or chicken, and can have a cheese and vegetable filling or a filling made from cheese and ham. Usually it is topped with a sauce as well. We love chicken cordon bleu, and eat it fairly often.
I had some left over ham, although not enough to eat as a meal on its own, it was the perfect amount to use as my filling for chicken cordon bleu. I topped it with a yellow and orange pepper coulis and served it over wild rice with Brussels sprouts cooked with apples, bacon, shallots and garlic, a biscuit BAM! You Have Biscuits and a crisp, chardonnay with hints of apples and melon to complete the meal. C’est manifique!
The recipe only calls for a few simple ingredients, yet comes out looking so elegant and tasting so good. I was experimenting with crackers instead of bread crumbs and they results came out great. There really was not much difference from the crackers or the breadcrumbs. By using herbed crackers, there was a little hint of the herbed flavor in the chicken crust, but it was very subtle.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken breasts, pounded thin
3-4 oz white cheese of your choice – I used jack cheese
1 cup shredded ham, cooked
salt & pepper to taste
1- 1 1/2 cups crackers crumbs or breadcrumbs
3 TBSP milk
oil for cooking
Generously wrap the chicken in plastic wrap and pound to about 1/4-1/2 ” in thickness with a meat tenderizer on a cutting board. Make sure the chicken is completely covered with the plastic wrap, otherwise it will tear and be destroyed by the meat tenderizer.
Once the chicken is to the desired thickness, unwrap the plastic and discard. Add the cheese and the ham to the chicken, leaving a little bit of an edge all around. Then gently roll it up, making sure to tuck in the sides and ends. Tie it with a large piece of cooking string to hold it together.
If using crackers, grind them up in a food processor until they ground into crumbs.
Mix the egg, milk and salt & pepper together to make the egg wash. Roll the chicken log into the egg mixture, making sure to completely cover it. Once the chicken is covered with the egg wash, roll it into the crumbs, again, making sure to completely cover it with crumbs.
In a hot skillet, add your oil for cooking. Olive oil is fine, however, it has a much lower smoke point than vegetable oil, so if using olive oil, watch it carefully to make sure it does not burn. Add your chicken log and brown completely on both sides. This takes about 4-6 minutes per side.
Preheat the oven to 375* F
When the chicken logs are golden brown on both sides, remove it and place it in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and bake for about 30 minutes. Before serving, remove the cooking string and top with your favorite sauce. I made a yellow and orange pepper coulis and topped my chicken with that. I love a roasted pepper coulis and it is super easy to make. It is relatively healthy too. I make them with either red, yellow or orange bell peppers. Today, I used both 1 yellow pepper and 1 orange pepper.