Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Hot ham. Is that a Midwestern thing? Every Sunday, you can visit your local deli, bakery, or grocery store to pick up hot ham and rolls after church. There's usually a little sign in the window embellished with a picture of a pig and highlighting the bargain. "Hot ham! $5.99 per pound! Plus 6 rolls FOR FREE!!" How can you pass that up?

On a recent Sunday, the husband and I stopped to pick up half a pound of hot ham and rolls for lunch. I waited in the car and sang "Wheels on the Bus" with our boy, and he made the purchase. When he left the bakery, though, he was carrying a gigantic bag. Maybe he got a few dozen donuts to go along with our hot ham? "Uh, they accidentally gave me a pound-and-a-half of ham." Which, of course, came with nine rolls. Good thing we were hungry.

Since we had a bit of ham leftover, I had to get creative to use it up. Chicken Cordon Bleu was just the ticket.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Serves: 2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 slices deli ham
1/2 cup shredded cheese*
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mist a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cover the chicken breasts with saran wrap and pound to 1/4" thickness. (If you plan ahead, you can ask the butcher to do this for you.) Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Flip the chicken over so the "back" of the breast is facing you. (This will make sure the nicer-looking "presentation" side ends up on top.)

Spread 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard on each chicken breast. Then layer one slice of ham and sprinkle with cheese. Tuck in the sides of the chicken to help keep the cheese from oozing out. (I didn't do a great job tucking in the sides, and mine stilled ended up delicious. So don't let this step stress you out.) Starting at the skinny, tapered end of each chicken breast, tightly roll up the chicken like a jellyroll. Then roll each chicken "log" in saran wrap and twist the ends of the saran wrap to make sure the chicken is tightly wrapped. (If you are prepping ahead of time, refrigerate chicken "logs" until you're ready to finish dinner.)

Place flour, bread crumbs, and egg in three separate shallow dishes. Season each dish with salt and pepper. Stir Italian seasoning into bread crumbs.

Remove saran wrap from the chicken. Dredge chicken in flour and pat off excess. Then dip chicken into egg, allowing excess to drip off. Finally, roll chicken in breadcrumbs, pressing to make sure they adhere. Place chicken in prepared baking dish and drizzle with melted butter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

*Most Chicken Cordon Bleu recipes use Swiss cheese Since the husband isn't a fan of Swiss cheese, I used a combo of mozzarella and Parmesan. If you like Swiss cheese, though, I think that would be wonderful.

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