My Italian Take on Chicken Cordon Bleu

First let us talk about Chicken Cordon Bleu; What is it exactly? Where did it come from? What does the name even mean? Well addressing the first question, chicken cordon bleu is normally chicken breast pounded and butterflied, then filled with ham/prosciutto and swiss cheese, and finally breaded and pan fried; it is also normally served with a creamy sauce. This is only chicken cordon bleu, there are several different variations with several different meat, traditionally either veal or pork, but always stuffed with a different meat and some sort of cheese.

Discussing the second question, there is not really a “first” per say. There are similar dishes from many different countries: Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, and even America. From doing some research, I found that cordon bleu was first mentioned in a cookbook in Switzerland in the 1940’s and later, chicken cordon bleu, was mentioned in the The New York Times during the 1960’s. While mentions of a veal version were found around 1955. Cordon bleu is a version of schnitzel (thin layers of meat breaded and fried), cordon bleu just stuffed schnitzel with other meat and cheese and served with a sauce! Some say it is a French dish, other say a Sweedish dish, and still others say American; but to me it doesn’t really matter where it comes from, it just matters that it tastes good! Am I right? I love learning how food transforms over time, it is interesting learning where dishes come from.

Finally the third question, what does it mean? Cordon bleu is French, I’m sure some of us already knew that, but cordon bleu translated means blue ribbon. In layman’s terms, something of the highest quality.

There is your little history lesson on cordon bleu, I hope it was informative! On to my version of cordon bleu, I put more of an Italian twist on this dish. Instead of stuffing my meat with ham and swiss, I stuffed mine with pepperoni and mozzarella (you can also stuff with salami or provolone, everyone has their own specific tastes, so be creative!). Also, instead of breading my chicken, I seasoned it with oregano, basil, garlic and onion powder, salt and ground black pepper; and finished it off by wrapping it in bacon (to make it more Italian you could wrap it in prosciutto, but all I had was bacon).  I hope you enjoy this recipe, my husband sure did!

Italian Chicken Cordon Bleu 

INGREDIENTS 

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can sub breasts, but for frying purposes I like dark meat because if you accidentally over cook it the meat will still be moist)

1 teaspoon salt, dried oregano, and garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, dried basil, and onion powder

8 pieces of pepperoni or salami

4 oz. of sliced mozzarella or provolone

8 to 12 pieces of bacon (preferably regular cut bacon, thick cut bacon takes forever to cook)

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Pound out your meat. I placed mine in between two pieces of parchment paper and set a cloth on top, then proceeded to tenderize my meat. Since I used chicken thighs I did not butterfly my meat, but if you are using breast I would definitly do that (it helps with the rolling process and cooking it more evenly).
  2. Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl and season both sides, using most of the mixture. IMG_20190108_172906865
  3. Place the cheese and the meat you are stuffing it with in layers on the meat, leaving room on all the edges so the cheese doesn’t spill out.

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4. Heat your pan to medium heat, I used my cast iron, but any pan will do. Also heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the chicken and wrap with 2 or 3 pieces of bacon, I recommend 3 pieces each for full coverage. Pour about 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil, I used olive oil, into your pan.

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5. Pan fry these cuties for roughly 5 to 7 minutes per side so that the bacon crisps up. Be careful not to turn to much or the bacon will unravel. Place the bundles of meat, preferably, on a wire rack over a roasting pan, or in a greased 9×13. Bake for 16 minutes, 8 minutes per side. If the bacon is not as crispy as you like place under a broiler for a few minutes each side.

6. Take out and let it rest a few minutes so the juices stay in the meat and not all over your plate and enjoy!

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