One thing you are going to probably notice about this blog is that I take a lot of high-class or classic dishes and put a modern, lazy or unique twist to them. When I say lazy, I don’t mean I’m laying in bed in my PJs while whipping up pancakes; instead, “lazy” to me means that I’ve made the dish more approachable to more people and taken out some of the unnecessary stuffiness or highfalutin flair that some dishes are famous for. Today, I’ve set my sights on the classic dish – Chicken Cordon Bleu. Let’s take a look at an easier (and some might say – actually it’s probably only me) better version of the Cordon Bleu. I want everyone reading to say Cordon Bleu like a I’m-too-good-for-you classically trained French Chef, it’ll make everything more enjoyable.
Cordon Bleu, Eh?
While doing some research for this post, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cordon Bleu does not come from the French; it comes from their friendly neighbors to the East – Switzerland. I was also surprised to find that Cordon Bleu has only been around since the 1940s and the first mention of Chicken Cordon Bleu can be traced back to 1967 in the New York Times. Cordon Bleu can take many forms, but the general requirement is that you have meat wrapped around cheese that is the breaded and either pan or deep fried. Since I try to avoid bread for the most part, I went ahead and skipped the breading step – if you want to bread your chicken, go on right ahead – there is no wrong or right way to Cordon Bleu. Finally, for those who aren’t fluent in French, Cordon Bleu means “blue ribbon”, basically best-in-class.
Hey, Chicken! Meet Mallet.
The first step is to get our chicken nice and flat. This requires two-steps: butterflying and then taking a meat mallet to flatten the chicken breast down to around 1/4″ thick. It’s easiest to show you how to do this with pictures so let’s jump in.
Side Dish: Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is an excellent side dish for the winter months. Winter squashes are characterized by seeds and a tough skin (aka rind) that must be removed before eating whereas summer squashes have edible skin and seeds. I like to keep my side dishes pretty basic and let the main course shine. Here is how I get after some butternut squash:
Blue Ribbon Dinner
Both the chicken roll-ups and butternut squash should take 30 minutes to cook so put them in at the same time. Make sure you mix up the squash halfway through the cooking process so it doesn’t stick or burn on one side. After 30 minutes have gone by, take your trusty meat thermometer and stick it in a few different places to ensure the entire chicken roll-up is at least 165°. Once you have made sure you’ve killed any and all salmonella, take out the toothpicks and transfer to a plate for dinner time. Your final product should look something like this:
Lessons Learned: Or What I’d Do Differently Next Time
Much like my salmon post, I’m very pleased with how my dinner turned out. I really think the dijon mustard is a critical component and does a really nice job of tying the chicken, cheese and prosciutto together. I’ll end on this note: use whatever cheese and meat you want for the stuffing, please don’t think you can only use havarti and prosciutto. Here are a few other recommendations but, really, use whatever your heart desires or whatever you have in your kitchen:
- Swiss Cheese and Ham – The classic version
- Cheddar Cheese and Bacon
- Gouda and Ham
- Mozzarella and Pepperoni – An Italian version, could even top with spaghetti/pizza sauce (I just thought of this and it sounds amazing)
- Pancetta would be another good choice
- Cheese Whiz and Baloney – jk, that is GROSS
Oh yeah, I’d Cook That!
- Medium-to-large Butternut Squash
- 2 Chicken Breasts (roughly half pound each)
- Dijon Mustard
- Salt & Pepper
- Cheese (I went with Havarti but any semi-hard cheese will do)
- 4 slices of prosciutto
- Meat Mallet
- Preheat Oven to 400°
- Butterfly and flatten your chicken breasts (instructions up top)
- Season both sides
- Spread dijon mustard on one side
- On the same side add your meat and cheese
- Roll-up and stick with toothpicks to keep them rolled
- Trim butternut squash of rind and remove seeds
- Cut the squash into 1" cubes
- Season the squash
- Put both the squash and chicken in the oven for 30 minutes (remember to mix up the squash halfway through cooking)
- Serve and Enjoy!