This is defintely a Deanna recipe and an old favorite family recipe. A French classic, cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried – and if you go the extra fancy mile, then your ‘wraps’ will actually be ‘rolls’ and served with a rich and creamy sauce. Mom’s usual was pounded chicken, thinly sliced or shaved ham and Swiss cheese. To die for. Since she never really used an actual recipe, I borrowed this outline from Bon Appétit and our current favorite way to enjoy this dish is to allow the tasty bundles to set and rest, cut them into fingers and have them on top of a large kale salad – I think we’d eat this meal every day if we could. I encourage you to give them a try, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll realize that you’re really just making chicken cutlet ‘sandwiches’ – and these are easy to make ahead and gently reheat in the oven if you ever have a crowd of people that you wish to impress!
For 4 good-sized ‘bundles’;
4 chicken breasts, cleaned, cut and pounded (between pieces of plastic wrap) so that you have 8 fairly equal sized pieces of chicken that will match up into 4 ‘sandwiches’ – I usually prep the chicken when I buy it, and freeze it so it’s ready to go…a really easy time saver!
4+ super thin slices of your favorite deli ham – you could also use prosciutto
4 thin slices of Swiss cheese – or Gruyère
1 c. panko – seasoned well with parsley, salt and pepper
1 or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c.+ flour
canola oil (or another neutral oil) for cooking
When you’re ready to get cooking, lay out all of your ingredients and place the panko mix in one shallow bowl, the egg(s) in another, and the flour in a third shallow bowl. I actually found it simplest to use a baking sheet as a work area, with a second smaller, clean one ready for the prepped bundles.
Sprinkle all of the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper and then plan out the sandwich match-ups. Arrange a piece of chicken, top with half of a piece of cheese, a piece of ham, the second half piece of cheese and then the matching chicken portion. Get a good grip and carefully dredge in the flour, then the egg, then the crumbs, gently pressing to get as much as possible to stick. Place finished cordon bleu on the clean baking sheet. Continue your assembly line until all of your bundles are complete, then cover them tightly and refrigerate for at the least an hour before cooking. They will stay together for cooking so much better, if they are chilled first. I usually make mine first thing in the morning and then dinner is actually quite quick – just make a salad while they’re cooking!
To cook – heat a good amount of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and place the chicken cordon bleus in the pan, leaving an inch or 2 space between each. Cook until deeply browned on the first side and then carefully turn over and cook a few minutes more. Try to touch them as little as possible, that way the chicken cooks through, the cheese melts, and you get a good crust on the outside. If you’e having trouble deciding if they’re done or not then feel free to cut into one.
Once cooked through, leave them to rest for a few minutes to set but avoid covering them up – they will lose their crispiness! If making ahead, cook completely, and then if you have room in your fridge, set them on the baking sheet that you’d like to heat them up on, cover them well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you need them – making them ahead a day or 2 works really well. To reheat, bring them to room temperature and heat at 350 for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melty and the crispiness has come back. I also like to serve them with a sprinkling of coarse salt – enjoy!