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Jan 17, 2016

Perfect Chicken Cordon Bleu (and the secret on how to avoid early emeltulation)

I made my first Chicken Cordon Bleu back in the 90's, when Chicken Cordon Bleu became really cool and started spelling it's name "Bleu" rather than "Blue".

My recollection of those early attempts amounted to a piece of Budding ham and a thin slice of Swiss cheese rolled into a plump chicken breast which I then dusted up in some flour. Upon cooking it, the cheese promptly melted out of it, leaving a gooey blob in a greasy pan that I attempted to turn into a sauce worthy of such a fancy sounding entree. Meh.
My early attempts looked something like this. 
You can just tell by looking at it that all of that cheese is going to melt out the minute it hits the pan. This is NOT what you want!
     I'm no know this about me, if you know me. In the past two decades I've tweaked and perfected the Bleu! Here's what you need to know to make the perfect Chicken Cordon Blue Bleu.

Tip #1: You gotta beat the meat! Pound that chicken, so it's thin. Put it between saran wrap or parchment paper so the icky juices don't splatter everywhere.

Tip #2: Use the best Gruyere cheese you can afford and cut it into a log about 1/2" x 1/2" x 3 to 4 inches long.
Tip #3: Load the breast up with about 1 ounce of thinly sliced deli ham (I like black forest ham best), a slab of cheese (an asparagus spear, if you want) and roll it up tight, folding the ends of the ham over the ends of the cheese to seal the cheese in it's own little ham hug. Secure with toothpicks and put it in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine.
Tip #4: Panko baby! Panko makes for a perfect crust, so use the three coating rule and dip it in flour, egg, that order.

Tip #5: This is the money tip, so pay attention! After it's crusted (sides and ends) put it on a baking rack and pop it back in the freezer for about 20 minutes and have that second glass wine while you wait for it to properly chill. By doing this the cheese gets hard, preventing early emeltulation and the crumbs freeze just enough to hug up on the breasts and to guaran-damn-tee that they won't fall off when they hit the hot grease.
Tip #6: Fry breasts in hot oil just until they are beautifully browned.
Tip #7: Finish it in the oven for 10-15 minutes while you make the sauce. (Don't be afraid to poke a thermometer in it. Internal temp should be about 165. You can pull it out at 160; it will finish and come up to 165, if you let it rest for about 5 minutes)

If you do this it will turn out perfect, I promise! The cheese will still be inside of it when you slice it open and will come out all melty and yummy.

I used to try to make a pan sauce but since breasts don't render any fat, it mostly came out without much flavor. This Parmesan-Dijon sauce is way better than any pan sauce so just dirty up another pan and make this lovely cream sauce while the chicken is baking. It's so simple and so worth it.

The January SdJ cooking class was called "Stuffed Stuff", hence the reason for the Cordon Bleu. Here is the complete menu.

The Stuffed Baguette is a great "do ahead" appetizer and can be made the day before. It's versatile and adaptable to what ingredients you have on hand. I went with Mediterranean flavors for this one, but you could easily switch it up to whatever you're in the mood for. (Mexican, Italian...)

I was bound and determined to do a S'mores stuffed chocolate chip cookie but I was underwhelmed by my 20 attempts. Pissed off, I finally thought screw it, we should drink dessert. The result is still S'mores and although it's not really drinkable, it does have marshmallow vodka (lots of it) in it so I'm calling it a cocktail. FYI, it did kick the chocolate-chip-cookie's ass!

To find out how to make all of this Stuff, go to the "Recipe Index" or click on the links below.

PRINT RECIPE: Mediterranean Stuffed Baguette

PRINT RECIPE:  Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan-Dijon Sauce

PRINT RECIPE:  S'mores Dessert Cocktail