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Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen's 2011 Cooking For Two.  [Recipe serves 2].

Since the '60s, chicken cordon bleu has been a favorite for many.  While the dish is typically prepared by tightly wrapping a thin, butterflied chicken breast around ham and cheese, this version is simplified by creating a side pocket to easily slide the filling into.  In addition, this dish is cooked completely in the oven rather than pan frying in butter.

Although it's great by itself, consider topping with a cheese sauce (using additional Swiss cheese in a bĂ©chamel sauce) or serving with a side of honey mustard (combine 1 part honey, 1 part Dijon mustard, and 2 parts mayonnaise).

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices deli ham (roughly 4 ounces total)
4 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into 2 equal logs
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and black pepper

12 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS:

An hour before you're ready to start, brine your chicken to ensure it stays juicy after being baked.  After an hour, rinse off the chicken, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, and reserve.

Adjust the shelves in your oven to the bottom and middle position, and preheat to 450° F.  Place a log of Swiss cheese at one end of a slice of ham and tightly roll the ham around the cheese.  Repeat this with the remaining ham and cheese.

Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut a horizontal slit into the side of the chicken breast, leaving a 1/2" border on the opposite end.  Tuck the ham and cheese log inside and ensure that the chicken is properly encasing the filling.  Transfer the chicken to the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you finish the remaining prep work.

In a small bowl, mix together the Ritz crumbs, panko, and melted butter.  Either sautĂ© or bake the buttered crumbs on a rimmed sheet pan for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly in a shallow dish.  Add the flour to a second shallow dish.  Lastly, whisk together the egg and mustard and transfer to a third shallow dish.

Dredge the chicken in the flour and dust off any excess.  Coat the chicken in the egg mixture, and then toss in the dish of bread crumbs.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake the chicken on the bottom oven rack for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms have browned nicely.  Move the baking sheet to the middle rack and reduce the heat to 400° F.  Continue baking for 18 to 24 minutes, or until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160° F and is firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before cutting into.

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