Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Do not be afraid of this recipe! I know it sounds all fancy with it's french name and all, but it's really easy and very yummy!

And, I have to say, this is a great recipe to make on those days when you are stressed. Why you ask? Because the recipe has you pound your chicken with a meat mallet! It is very therapeutic (and a nice forearm workout too!). I pounded my chicken nicely, and in between pounding I sipped on a Diet Coke. I finished prepping dinner feeling like I'd just left the spa. Well, sort of. My fingernails still need a little work.

Anyway, try this recipe! After you've made it once it becomes easier the next time, and it looks fancy on a plate and sounds fancy when you say, "We are having Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner." Go ahead, say it with an accent. Your family will think you are amazing (because you are) and you will have yourself a new signature dish! Some Chicken Cordon Bleu recipes have a wine or cheese sauce that gets poured over the top after it's baked. My family doesn't like the sauces - we prefer the chicken to stay crispy and sauceless. We just dip it in extra dijon mustard. But if you want some sauce, I won't judge you. I just don't have a recipe for you!

Also, keep in mind that this recipe is basically a method. Feel free to change it up! Instead of ham and swiss, use pepperoni and mozzerella with some marinara in place of mustard. Or a ranch, ham, and cheddar mixture. Why not a roasted red pepper filled with feta and spinach? The possibilities are endless, just find a combo that works for you!
The all-star line-up
First place your chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap.
And pound away! The best way to pound your chicken is to start from the middle and work out. You want it to flat (the flatter it is the easier it is to roll into the bundle) but if you pound it too much you will tear the chicken. A benefit from pounding your chicken is that it becomes very tender. If you don't have a meat mallet, you can use the flat part of a heavy saucepan too.
Next lay out your ham and place the shredded cheese in the middle.
Roll them into ham "burritos"
Spread dijon mustard on your chicken. Place your ham rolls onto your flattened chicken.
Roll up your chicken and secure with toothpicks. I find it easier to roll up the long side first. And don't worry if it isn't perfect or pretty. After it's breaded and cooked you won't notice! I promise!!
Get your flour, eggs, and bread crumbs ready. Dip your chicken into the flour to coat, dip it the egg mixture, and coat in the bread crumbs. I used seasoned bread crumbs, but you can use panko breading too, just season it up to your liking. And if you don't like touching raw chicken, this recipe isn't for you. Or better yet, use this recipe, but make your husband do this part (I did!).
Isn't it cute?? It's ready to be cooked for a few minutes on the stove. Cooking it in the oil first allows the outside to crisp up before finishing baking it in the oven.
Ready to go in the oven!
See that yummy crispy outside? And the warm and gooey cheese, wrapped in ham and tender chicken? Mmmmm.....yum!


4 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 slices thinly sliced ham
1 cup shredded swiss
8 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350. Place one chicken in between two pieces of wax paper or saran wrap on a cutting board. Pound to an even thickness of about 1/4-inch with the flat side of a meat mallet (I think this is the easiest method), a rolling pin, or with a heavy pan. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Spread out two pieces of ham; pile 1/4 cup shredded cheese in the middle, then roll up the piece of ham like a burrito to enclose the cheese. Spread out one chicken breast and spread with 2 tsp of dijon mustard. Place ham bundle on chicken at one end and roll up chicken, enclosing ham bundle. (This does not need to be perfect, I just tucked the edges in as I went - any imperfections will be covered by the bread crumbs.) Secure with toothpicks. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Spread flour on a dinner plate and pour eggs into a shallow bowl and bread crumbs on another dinner plate. Coat one stuffed chicken breast with flour, dip in egg completely, and coat with bread crumbs, adhering with fingers if needed. Repeat with remaining chicken. (Your fingers will get nasty!).

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and brown, covered, for three minutes. Flip chicken over and continue to cook, covered, for another 2-3 minutes. (Some of my chicken bundles were more three sided so I flipped those ones and cooked the third side for a minute or so. It just allows the bread crumbs to get crispy). Transfer to a shallow baking dish and bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 350.

**The chicken does release it's juices while cooking. If you have a grill rack that fits in your pan or a broiler pan, I recommend using that so your chicken doesn't sit in the juices while cooking. It makes the bottom a little soggy. If you don't have this, don't worry! It's still tasty and delicious!!

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