This classy “French” dish is super easy to make at home. Actually Chicken Cordon Bleu is an American dish based on the French dish Veal Cordon Bleu. We took the “cordon bleu” and wrapped it in chicken instead of veal. Ta-da!! The French term Cordon Bleu is translated as “Blue Ribbon” and this dish is a winner, if you eat meat, you will love this!. It is a flattened boneless, skinless chicken breast wrapped around some form of ham and a mild white cheese, preferable with a light smokey flavor. The chicken is held together with toothpicks and dipped in an egg wash and breaded. I skip the egg wash and opt to use an easy spoonful of mayonnaise instead. I also like to add a last minute sprinkling of fresh shredded Parmesan just for extra yum.
You start with fresh hormone free boneless, skinless chicken breast meat. I prefer using chicken that is hormone free and has not been injected with saline solution. I buy it from a reputable local meat market that sells only free range/grass fed meats. Place a breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and get out your meat mallets gang, today is going to be a stress free day for you. Perhaps this is not so much a recipe as a cautionary tale for all of the free range chickens and plastic wrap running wild out there. In any case, pound that breast until it is flat, flip it over and pound both sides keeping the plastic wrap between you and the meat, really teach it a lesson! This is a very therapeutic activity, I made five of these tender morsels this time, so I have to say I was very relaxed.
Since that chicken was so cooperative, I am letting it fraternize with some black forest ham, Gouda cheese and fresh spinach leaves. You can use any sliced ham, Canadian Bacon or Prosciutto. I lay down two slices to fit the shape of my chicken breast which I pounded into a tidy thin square. Next the cheese; I used a lovely smoked Gouda but the traditional choice is a Swiss or a rich smoky Gruyere. Normally cordon bleu stops with ham and cheese, but I like to green it up with some fresh spinach. Hence, the Florentine in the name; which literally means “we put spinach in this”.
Use the bottom layer of plastic wrap to help you wrap the chicken tightly over the filling. DO NOT WRAP THE PLASTIC INTO YOUR ROLL. When it is done it will be this lovely spiral of heavenly roasted chicken, sweet ham, gooey cheese and spinach. Pin it with tooth picks and lay it in your baking dish while you pound, stuff and roll the rest. Once they are all in the pan, hit them with a bit of salt and a generous dose of cracked black pepper. But you are not done yet! You still need to bread them!
And now the real party begins! Slather those beauties up in some Olive Oil Mayonnaise to give the Panko bread crumbs something to stick to. The mayonnaise also serves to oil the pan. Season all of the crusted rolls with lemon pepper and dried Italian herbs and into the oven they go for final conditioning! Total baking time is forty minutes in a preheated 350º F oven, in the last twenty minutes sprinkle some fresh shredded Parmesan on each roll for extra cheesy crunch! I think I taught that chicken not to sass me!
- 5 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- 10 slices Black Forest Ham
- 10 Slices Smoked Gouda Cheese
- 5-6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, stems removed
- 5 spoonfuls Olive Oil Mayonnaise
- 5 T Panko Bread Crumbs
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
- Lemon Pepper, to taste
- Dried Italian Herbs, to taste
- 5 tsp Shredded Parmesan Cheese (1 tsp per roll), optional
- Preheat the oven to 350º F
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap large enough to accommodate your finished flattened chicken on the cutting board. Position one breast in the center of the piece of wrap. Lay another same sized piece of plastic wrap over the top of the breast and smooth the edges to semi-seal them. Use a meat tenderizer or other blunt object to pound the meat flat, turning it to guide the shape and flipping it to get even thinness. You want it to end up as a rectangle more or less so you can stuff and roll it.
- Remove the top piece pf wrap and lay on 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of cheese to cover the chicken and top that with enough spinach leaves to cover the whole.
- Use the bottom piece of plastic to help you roll the chicken around the stuffing tightly and secure it with tooth picks. Be careful NOT to roll the plastic into the chicken roll.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for each chicken breast and lay them into a baking dish or foil pan and season all with a pinch of sea salt and a generous amount of cracked black pepper.
- Slather each roll with a spoonful of Olive Oil Mayonnaise and sprinkle generously with Panko bread crumbs, Lemon Pepper, and Dried Italian herbs.
- Bake for 40 minutes in a 350º F oven
- Optional: in the last 20 minutes of baking sprinkle a teaspoon or so of shredded Parmesan cheese on each roll and finish baking.
NOTE: I served these with some creamy gnocchi Alfredo with additional wilted spinach leaves, but you could pair it with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower, quinoa or rice pilaf or even some fresh steamed Asparagus… that sounds yummy!