Cordon bleu or translated from the original French as the blue ribbon is a term that seems to date back to the 16th century when King Henry III of France created the l'Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit (Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit). The most exclusive order in France where each member was awarded the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a “blue ribbon” known as, wait for it, Le Cordon Bleu.
Even with that legacy Chicken Cordon Bleu is a French-inspired poultry dish, although many culinary eggheads feel that it developed in the United States by chefs imitating other stuffed meat dishes from Europe. This Americanized poultry version is probably influenced by Veal Cordon Bleu, a strikingly similar Swiss dish in which thinly pounded veal is wrapped in ham and cheese, breaded and deep fried.
As our country, has taken liberties with these traditional European dishes I felt justified that I could do the same. With that spirit in mind, today’s recipe is a whole lotta “what if’s” on my part. What if, we prepared the chicken first using the sous vide technique then finished with a quick fry? What if, we used prosciutto instead of the more traditional black forest ham? What if, we kept the skin on and crisped the breast in the pan without the heavier breading and deep frying? What if, we wrapped a skin-less breast after stuffing in more prosciutto? Well, you all know me by now, I did all of those! Feel free to choose one of my variations or go old school and deep fry at will!
• 2 8-10 ounces’ chicken breasts, boneless skin-on or skin-off Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 slices black forest ham or prosciutto, cut thin
• 2 ounces emmenthaler cheese, cut into batons
For breaded chicken:
• peanut oil, for frying
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 large eggs
• 1 cup panko bread crumbs
For the prosciutto wrapped chicken:
• 4-6 slices prosciutto, cut thin
For the skin-on or prosciutto wrapped chicken:
• 3 tablespoons chicken schmaltz or similar
1. Preheat the VacMaster SV1 to 140ºF/60ºC
2. Lay each chicken breast half on the cutting board, smooth side facing down.
3. Using a narrow sharp knife with a pointed tip, make an incision in the side of the breast, then carefully cut out a long deep pocket without puncturing the rest of the breast.
4. Wrap 2 pieces of the black forest ham or the prosciutto around 3 or 4 batons of Swiss cheese.
5. Gently tuck the ham and cheese into each pocket and gently press the breast to close the pocket.
6. Season the chicken liberally with the salt and pepper.
7. Repeat with the other breast.
For the prosciutto wrap:
1. After stuffing the skinless breasts use the remaining prosciutto to wrap the exterior of the breast.
2. Repeat with the other breast.
1. Place the stuffed chicken breasts, with skin-on or skinless or prosciutto wrapped in an appropriate sized VacMaster bag and using a VacMaster chamber or suction machine vacuum seal the chicken breasts.
2. Place in the water bath and for 90 minutes.
For finishing the deep-fried chicken:
1. Prepare a deep fryer with the peanut oil and set for 375ºF
2. Alternatively, pour about 2 inches of the peanut oil into a large Dutch oven and heat the oil to 375ºF over medium-high heat.
3. Place the flour in a wide dish and season with the salt and pepper, the beaten egg seasoned with the salt and pepper in another bowl, and the panko in a third.
4. Remove the stuffed skinless chicken breasts from the bag and pat very dry with paper towels
5. Dredge one piece of chicken at a time in the flour, tapping off the excess
6. Immediately dip it in the egg letting the excess drip away
7. Finally dredge it thoroughly in the panko.
8. Repeat with the other breast.
9. Fry the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown all over and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the breasts.
10.Transfer the chicken to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.
11. Serve the chicken hot.
For finishing the skin-on or prosciutto wrapped chicken:
1. Preheat a medium sized skillet with chicken schmaltz or similar
2. Place the cooked skin-on or the prosciutto wrapped breasts into the hot pan and brown on all sides to crisp up the skin or the prosciutto, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Serve the chicken hot.