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Chicken cordon bleu is one of those meal-in-one dishes, which appeals to my family’s tastes in different ways.
It has the crispy exterior from the breadcrumb mixture that the kids enjoy. The salty prosciutto appeals to my husband’s love of all things pork, and the creamy Gruyere center is the highlight for me.
WHAT IS CHICKEN CORDON BLEU?
My family and I stayed at a hotel near Rothwald, Switzerland, and the proprietor of the hotel told us a story about the beginnings of the dish we know as chicken cordon bleu.
Swiss in origin, chicken cordon bleu was created in a tizzy. According to legend, the cook of a small inn in the village of Brig, Switzerland was caught off guard by a last-minute dinner rush.
Having very little meat on hand with which to feed the unexpected crowd, she decided to pound pork out into a thin schnitzel, then stuff it with ham and cheese to bulk it up. Turns out, the dish was such a hit that the diners declared she was worthy of Le Cordon Bleu—The Blue Ribbon—the highest honor awarded to a French chef.
Over time, the recipe has evolved into a dish that’s made with chicken. The first known reference of Chicken Cordon Bleu was in the New York Times in 1967. Nevertheless, it’s still as impressive as it was on that frantic day in Brig.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
To cook chicken cordon bleu, a boneless, skinless chicken breast is gently flattened with a meat mallet to a 1/4-inch thickness, similar to a pork schnitzel. The meat is then wrapped around a simple stuffing of sliced ham and Swiss cheese. It is then breaded and pan-fried.
While the classic cooking method is pan-frying alone, this recipe finishes the dish in the oven. Pan-frying gives the chicken an über-crispy crust, while the final bake in the oven ensures the chicken is cooked through (and gives you a few minutes to prepare your side dishes).
TIPS FOR FLATTENING CHICKEN BREASTS
It’s important for the chicken breast to be thin enough to cook in the allotted time, without being so thin that it’s easily torn when stuffed or rolled.
I like to place a breast between two pieces of parchment paper and pound it out firmly, but not too aggressively, with a meat mallet. Taking your time prevents tearing the chicken breast.
When the breast reaches 1/4-inch thickness, remove the top piece of parchment and keep the thin chicken breast on the bottom piece of parchment. Stuff and roll the breast while on the parchment for easy clean up.
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
To make chicken cordon bleu gluten-free, go ahead and replace the all-purpose flour called for in this recipe with rice flour. Then replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free panko or pork rind “breadcrumbs.”
WHAT IS THE SAUCE FOR CHICKEN CORDON BLEU?
A wedge of lemon squeezed over your cordon bleu is about as saucy as it gets!
Remember, our girl in Brig was struggling to feed that crowd of people as it was. There was certainly no time for a sauce! Sauce-making would just make this slightly fussy recipe even fussier. The juicy chicken and gooey cheese filling is so good, you won’t even miss a sauce.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN CORDON BLEU?
My family loves it when I serve mashed potatoes and a simple green salad alongside this chicken.
Save yourself a little time, and make these Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes. This Mixed Green Salad with Pecans and Goat Cheese is always a hit. Toast the pecans for the salad while you’re finishing the chicken.
If you’re more of a noodles and green vegetables person, lightly buttered egg noodles and green beans also go nicely with this recipe.
STORING AND FREEZING CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
Cordon bleu is notoriously time-consuming—with the stuffing, and rolling, and breading, and such!
I don’t recommend cooking this dish ahead of time because part of the excitement of chicken cordon bleu is watching that molten cheese ooze out from its center. I tried it the day after I made it, and the dish, once reheated, was drier than the day I made it.
I am, however, a huge fan of prepping it in advance and freezing these for later. This is a great Sunday prep meal to have stockpiled in the freezer for surprise guests or busy weeknights when you need dinner on the fly.
- I get the chicken pounded, stuffed, and rolled when I have a little extra time.
- Then I wrap them individually in plastic wrap, store them in a container, and pop them in the freezer. They will keep for up to two months. (This is a great recipe to double!)
- The day before I want to make them, I take the amount I need out of the freezer and thaw the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
- Then on the day I want to eat them, I just bread the prepared chicken and cook it. Anytime you can pull off something that looks and tastes gourmet on a weeknight without the stress of doing it start to finish is a win in my book.
NEED MORE GREAT CHICKEN RECIPES?
- Classic Baked Chicken
- Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Chicken Piccata
- Easy Chicken Parmesan
- Chicken Milanese
- Chicken Bacon Roulades