This chicken dish began with a mistake. Our only local supermarket is about 15 minutes away around the lake. Sometimes we try to combine trips. David needed to go to the hardware store so I reluctantly turned over my lenghthy grocery list to him. I wanted to try the recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu that was in the latest issue of Cook’s Country. It called for boneless chicken breasts, black forest ham and swiss cheese. It seemed simple at the time, but David came home with thin boneless chicken breasts. Of course I was very understanding. Afterall, I am always even-tempered and perfect. . . . enough said. To his credit, the store was actually out of boneless chicken breasts when he was there and he figured I could make do with the thin ones. But what he didn’t know was that the whole premise of this recipe was to cut a pocket into the chicken breasts and insert two cylinders of cheese stuffed ham. There was no way that was going to happen. So I improvised and I think the results were great.
I placed about 1/2 cup of grated swiss cheese on a stack of two ham slices, rolled it up and placed the roll in the center of one of the chicken breasts. I pounded a second chicken breast in wax paper to make it slightly larger than the first and placed it over the top. I pressed gently on the meat to make it stick together. When all of the breasts were stuffed they went in the refrigerator for a half an hour. I then proceeded with the breading and the baking. The seal worked very well, with just a little of the cheese oozing out. I loved the breading which included bread crumbs and Ritz crackers. This is one of those dishes you can prepare ahead and bake when you are ready. Great for company. You can do it my way or follow this recipe.
CHICKEN CORDON BLEU ( Cook’s Country )
To help prevent the filling from leaking, use large (8 ounce) chicken breasts and thoroughtly chill the stuffed breasts before breading.
25 Ritz crackers (about 3/4 sleeve)
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 thin slices deli ham (Black forest ham recommended)
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all purpose flour
1. Make Crumbs. Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pulse crackers and bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Drizzle in butter; pulse to incorporate. Bake crumbs on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish. Leave oven on.
2 Stuff Chicken. Top each ham slice with 1/4 cup cheese and roll tightly; set aside. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Cut pocket in thickest part of chicken and stuff each breast with 2 ham and cheese rolls. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
3. Coat and Bake. Beat eggs and mustard in second shallow dish. Place flour in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat stuffed chicken lightly with flour, dip into egg mixture, and dredge in crumbs, pressing to adhere. (Breaded chicken can be refrigerated, covered, for 1 day.) Transfer chicken to clean baking sheet. Bake on lowest rack until bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes, and then move baking sheet to middle rack and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown and chicken registers 160 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.