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This week, in honor of National Cordon Bleu Day on April 4 (because yes, that’s a real thing), we’re sharing a recipe for the dish.
Meaning “blue ribbon” in French (in reference to the ribbons worn by the highest order of knighthood), cordon bleu is a preparation of meat — usually chicken or veal — in which a thin cutlet is wrapped around cheese and thinly sliced smoked ham, then breaded and fried until golden brown and crisp. Swiss cheeses like Gruyère are traditionally used, though there are several variations of the dish, some incorporating different cheeses or meats and adding Dijon, lemon, wine or cream sauce, and herbs and spices.
While the name cordon bleu is fully French, whether or not the dish actually originated in France is debatable, as there is culinary evidence that similar dishes — roulades and bracioline — were common in several past cultures. According to foodtimeline.org, it wasn’t until sometime around the 1960s that the dish as we know it in America today first surfaced, with the earliest reference to “chicken cordon bleu” in The New York Times in 1967 and the first reference to “veal cordon bleu” in the Los Angeles Times in 1958.
This recipe, from Tyler Florence, substitutes prosciutto di Parma for smoked ham and uses panko bread crumbs for an extra crisp coating. Feel free to serve with chicken jus, lemons, a quick pan sauce or cranberry chutney, as Florence does.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Ingredients serves 4
4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
1/2 pound Gruyere, grated
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay 2 slices of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix the bread crumbs with thyme, garlic and kosher salt, pepper, and melted butter. The butter will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and season so the flour, the eggs and the crumbs are all seasoned.
Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and gently coat in the bread crumbs. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil and carefully transfer the roulades onto it. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.
Cut into pinwheels and serve.