When I think back to the years spent shuffling through school cafeterias, dead-eyed and drooling, footfalls in lock-step with my fellow starved schoolyard zombies, one meal always stood above the rest: Chicken Cordon Bleu. Maybe it was its simplicity – chicken, ham, Swiss cheese, bread crumbs and creamy sauce – that made it immune to the abuses and deprivations of the industrial food service kitchen. Somehow, against all odds and reason, it even retained its crispy coating despite flagrant violations of basic food rights by the feckless and uncaring spoon-and-tong-operators tasked with warming and serving the daily gruel.
I’m older now, no longer shackled and bound by institutionalized eating. But those delicious little lumps of CCB still call to me from the distant past. And when they do, it’s an easy call to answer. My tastes have grown alongside my mind and body since those days, so the CCB of my youth, though always tasty, sometimes needs a little
grown-up upgrade grown-upgrade. This is a recipe for that same beautiful CCB we all know and love, but with some shallots, dried chanterelle mushrooms and nutmeg added to perk up the flavor. Let’s get to it. (Printer-friendly recipe at the end of the post)
- 6 chicken breast halves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices ham, prosciutto or pancetta
- 6 slices Swiss cheese or Gruyere
- 1/2 cup flour, seasoned with about 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced dried chanterelle mushrooms (or the dried mushroom of your choice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons corn starch, mixed into a few tablespoons of cold heavy cream
- pinch ground nutmeg
- Soak a small handful of the dried chanterelles in hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. When softened, mince the mushrooms. Measure 1 tablespoon of the minced mushrooms and set aside. Strain and reserve soaking liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pound chicken breasts and flatten to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
- Sprinkle each breast with about 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Use more or less depending on your taste.
- Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese on each flattened breast and roll, starting from the narrow end of the breast.
- Dredge the rolled breasts in flour.
- Coat the rolled breasts with egg.
- Dredge the rolled breasts in the bread crumbs, ensuring all parts are evenly coated.
- Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- When melted and hot, add the rolled breasts and brown on all sides.
- Transfer rolled breasts to a baking dish and bake about 15 minutes or until internal temperature has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the sauce. First, rinse out your pan if it is filled with burnt bread crumbs.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Add minced shallots and minced mushrooms.
- Cook, stirring often for 1 or 2 minutes.
- Add reserved mushroom liquid and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add wine and reduce by half.
- Add cream and corn starch, stirring continuously.
- Add a pinch of ground nutmeg.
- If needed, season with salt.
- Keep stirring until sauce has thickened.
- Remove from heat.
- Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve.
I paired this dish with a fantastic red burgundy: the 2012 Bachelet Maranges Premier Cru “la Fussière.” To put that in a more understandable context, the wine is made by Vincent Bachelet from pinot noir grapes sourced from a vineyard called la Fussière in the Maranges appellation (sub-region) of the Burgundy region in France. The “Premier Cru” (written as “1er “) designation means that the vineyard is of excellent quality, though not quite the best, which would be “Grand Cru.” This dish would also pair well with a Chardonnay, either from Burgundy or California. You can find the Bachelet wine online here, or drop by Center Wine & Spirits if you’re in the Glastonbury, CT area.
Back to the food! Here are some more pics to whet your appetite.