Although it seems extravagant, Chicken Cordon Bleu is nothing more than simple ingredients transformed. One of my son’s absolute favorites, it never fails to bring him to the table (or home) when it’s on the menu.
Best if prepared ahead a bit so the chicken can “seal” itself, and then rested so the crumbs adhere well, breaking this recipe into stages makes this a very doable dish. The photo is pan-fried. Deep frying and baking both give their own unique looking crust.
Compared to many fast food options, even a dish like Chicken Cordon Bleu doesn’t come out nutritionally to be as bad as I first feared. My son’s 10 piece nuggets are 470 calories, not including the dipping sauce. One of McDonald’s Chicken Club sandwiches? 970 calories. The numbers for Chicken Cordon Bleu are below, under “nutrition.” 371 calories. Yep.
Of course, if you’re not watching carbs, fats and proteins like I do, just enjoy, and I hope I didn’t ruin if for you! I know I plan on enjoying every minute of every bite of this wonderful meal.
I’ll serve the Cordon Bleu for a cost of $3.16 and add a few Turnip Greens, $1.09 and Glazed Carrots, 59 cents. The total cost of the meal is about $4.83. Read I how shop to bring this to the table for such a great price, below.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 4 chicken breast, 6 ounces each
- 8 slices ham, thinly sliced – I used Buddig for this budget recipe
- 2 ounces Swiss cheese, grated, or any cheese you wish – if cheese is soft, there is no need to grate
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or marjoram
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons water
- salt and pepper
Preparing the Breast:
Photos are below. Slice chicken breast along the center side – slice from the fat side, almost to the middle. This is really counter-intuitive, and just the opposite of how I’ve been “instructed” from every cook book I’ve read and Tv shows I’ve seen, but if you slice the other way, from the flatter side to the thicker middle, you will always end up with a piece of chicken meat that looks like a heart with two tails, not a rectangle. Romantic, but not very easy to roll.
When you get near the outside, with about a good inch left, open it up. Trim off the bottom and make a series of small, shallow cuts vertically along the fat middle portion.
Trim off the triangle of meat at the bottom pointed end (about an inch and 1/2.) Make a series of very shallow cuts vertically along the middle of the chicken at the top fatter part to allow it to lay flat.
Put in heavy Ziploc type bag or between two sheets of plastic. This allows the chicken to “slide” as it enlarges from the pounding and prevents chicken pieces from flying around. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Take care not to pound too hard because the meat may tear or create holes, and be particularly careful around any areas of the chicken where there is a seam (like two muscles attaching together) and the center. the result should be something that resembles a rectangle.
Season with salt and pepper.
Fill and shape the Chicken:
Add two slices of ham, leaving a good half inch all around, and a bit more space at the top (since you’ll be rolling “away” from you and towards the top. Add cheese, grated if not soft. Bring the bottom of the chicken towards the ham and cheese, beginning the roll, and bringing the two sides in, folding and rolling just like a Chipotle burrito. Roll over, leaving the seam at the bottom. If, as you finish the roll, you notice any ham or cheese sticking out, unroll a bit and fold them over, so that when the roll is complete, you have chicken sealed against chicken.
Squeeze the log gently to seal. Lay a piece of plastic wrap down and place your chicken log on the plastic, seam side down, horizontal to the bottom edge of the plastic. Roll the plastic wrap around the chicken, leaving the short sides of the chicken roll open.
Grab a hold of the plastic wrap on the left and right of the chicken, one end in each hand. Firmly roll the chicken on the counter, letting the plastic wrap tighten. Pick it up and roll again several times. The plastic will tighten around the chicken, forcing it into a nicely rounded and uniform shape. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight – this helps to seal the chicken well. This is a good time to freeze the chicken, as well, if you’d like to make some for the future. (Thaw overnight in the fridge and continue with the recipe.)
Prepare flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs:
In three dishes of appropriate size for the rolled chicken, prepare the three step breading process. Add flour to one and season with salt and pepper. In the second, beat together eggs and water, the mixture should be fluid. In the third, mix the breadcrumbs with thyme, salt and pepper. Set out a rack for the breaded chicken.
Lightly dust the chicken with flour, making sure the ends are coated, too. Pick up and pat gently to shake off excess. Dip and roll in the egg mixture, making sure to get wash on the ends and in the nooks and crannies. Finally, place in the bread crumbs, completely coating. Press gently to adhere. Place on rack and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight for best adhesion.
If using this recipe for Chicken Kiev (below, under Put Your Own Spin On it) the additional time in the fridge helps to keep the butter fairly solid while it’s cooking so it doesn’t ooze out prematurely.
Bake, Fry or Deep Fry:
Bake at 350 for about 20 – 25 minutes, deep fry at 350 for about 6 – 8 minutes, or pan fry in about 1/2 inch of oil, four minutes per side. Test for a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees. 165 is the safe temperature for chicken, a short rest, if removed at 160 degrees and lightly covered with foil, should raise the temperature to 165.
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Tyler Florence
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 371 Calories; 20g Fat (48.4% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 420mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 4 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.
Put your own spin on it:
You can easily turn this recipe into Chicken Kiev: Combine 4 tablespoons butter, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of parsley and tarragon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place mixture on plastic wrap or waxed paper and roll into small log; place in freezer. Divide up and use instead of cheese and ham for the filling. Omit the thyme or marjoram in the breadcrumb coating.
My Pay Off:
The bottom line is these taste great without a lot of additives. I often find these frozen in little bags, 6 ounces for a dollar, about $2.67 a pound – four of them would, of course, be $4.00. The taste cannot even begin to compare to the homemade version – for that alone, the work is more than worth it.
Recipe made in November 2011