Harland: Chicken Cordon Bleu

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By Robert Harland

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Monday, August 11, 2014


ONE of my favorite chicken dishes is Chicken Cordon Bleu. This is a breaded chicken cutlet stuffed with ham and cheese.

A popular way to prepare the dish is to butterfly a chicken breast, place a thin slice of ham inside, along with a thin slice of soft, easily melted cheese. The chicken breast is then rolled and coated in bread crumbs and deep fried.

The Elks Club in Makati offers a very respectable Chicken Cordon Bleu.

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Although the dish has its origins in Europe - many swear it's a Swiss dish - it first appeared on restaurant menus in the US in the early 1960s. According to the Food Time Line website, it's clearly an American recipe innovation. It was considered a trendy dish at the time and served at fashionable, high-class restaurants.

It's often thought that the dish originated from one of the prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking schools of Europe. But this does not appear to be the case. The term 'cordon bleu' has come to denote a chef of exceptional quality. The originator of Chicken Cordon Bleu may have been playing off that perception when naming the dish.

Whatever the history, it's delicious. Try this recipe.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 large chicken breasts
4 slices of Swiss cheese
4 slices of cooked ham
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large egg
100 grams fresh breadcrumbs
oil for deep frying
Salt and black pepper

To garnish:
Parsley sprigs
1 lemon

Method:

Butterfly or slice the chicken breasts in half and season. Lay a cheese slice atop each breast along with a slice of ham and cover with the remaining chicken halves - sandwich style.

Put the flour on a plate. Break the egg into a shallow bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Put the breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl.

Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip in the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs, making sure each piece of chicken is completely covered. Pat the crumbs in well.

Heat the oil for deep fat frying to 375F. Deep fry the chicken - in two batches if necessary - for about 8 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen towels.

Leave the parsley sprigs whole or finely chop. Cut the lemon into wedges. Garnish the chicken with both.

Cooking tip: to get a really thick, even coating around food to be deep fried, egg and breadcrumb it twice. Coat once, as in the recipe, and then put it in the ref and leave for at least 30 minutes. Dip again in egg and then roll again in the breadcrumbs. Chill again for another 30 minutes and then deep fry as instructed.

If you wish to serve the dish with a sauce try this basic recipe.

Basic White Sauce

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk, stirring constantly as it thickens. Add more milk depending on desired consistency.

Although Chicken Cordon Bleu is not a Swiss dish, Rösti potatoes go well with the dish. Considered by many Swiss as a national dish, Rösti or Röschti is made with coarsely-grated potato.

More on potatoes again next week.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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