Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cook's Country Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan-Dijon Cream sauce


There are many variations of chicken cordon bleu- it's essentially baked chicken stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. I turned to my trusty Cook's Illustrated (or, in this case, Cook's Country) for their version.


When I've made this in the past, it's always lacking a creamy sauce. Well look no further, I think I've found the one. The sauce is creamy and comforting- a mild Parmesan cheese sauce with a hint of Dijon mustard.

Notes:
  1. Homemade bread crumbs made all the difference! I think this is another aspect where this dish lacked for me before- using store-bought breadcrumbs in a canister (or even Panko) never made the "oh, this dish is amazing!" cut. I always keep the heels of bread loaves in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for occasions like this. 
  2. Pick a good quality ham and Swiss cheese you can find- For us, we love Kroger's Private Selection or Boar's Head brands
Ingredients:
  • 25 Ritz crackers (I used Roasted Vegetable flavor)
  • 5 slices of hearty sandwich bread (we keep 100% whole wheat in the house)
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 thin slices of deli ham (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, or 6-oz package of sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3-4 thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), patted dry 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toothpicks (for securing)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Misto cooking spray (optional)
For the Parmesan-Dijon sauce
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (use at least 2%; skim won't work here)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube/granule, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. Make the homemade breadcrumbs
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
    2. Pulse the crackers and bread in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to incorporate together.
    3. Transfer the breadcrumb mixture onto the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes until the crumbs are lightly browned. (They brown quickly so keep a close eye!)
    4. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow baking dish (ex: pie plate). Leave the oven on.
  2. Begin making the ham/cheese rolls- Top each ham slice with 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese (or 1 slice of Swiss cheese), and roll it tightly. Set aside. Complete with the remaining ham slices. (We used 2 ham/cheese rolls per chicken breast.)
  3. Stuff the chicken breasts
    1. Cut a pocket into the thickest part of the chicken breast, and stuff each pocket with 2 ham/cheese rolls. 
    2. Pull the top flap of chicken over the rolls, and press to seal. 
    3. Season the chicken breast with some salt and pepper, and gently secure the breast with toothpicks (we used 2 toothpicks per breast). Make sure the rolls are completely stuffed in the chicken.
  4. Refrigerate stuffed chicken- Complete this for the remaining chicken breasts, and refrigerate the stuffed chicken, covered, for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the "dipping station"
    1. While the chicken is sitting pretty in the fridge, begin making the 3-plate "dipping station"- place the eggs and Dijon mustard and mix together well. 
    2. In another plate, add the flour. 
    3. The 3rd plate is the breadcrumb mixture from Step #4 above.
    4. Line the "dipping station" in this order: Flour--> Egg--> Breadcrumbs.
    5. Prepare the same baking sheet with foil (the same one you used for the breadcrumbs), and lightly grease it with cooking spray.
  6. Coat the chicken
    1. Once the chicken has been in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, remove it from the fridge and begin dipping! 
    2. Coat the chicken lightly with flour, then dip it in the egg mixture- covering both sides, and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly to help the crumbs stick to the chicken. 
    3. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. 
    4. Spray the chicken breasts with Misto cooking spray (this helps to crisp up the breadcrumbs.)
  7. Bake the chicken
    1. Transfer the chicken to the lightly greased baking sheet, and bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the bottom of the chicken is browned, about 10 minutes.
    2. Move the chicken to a middle rack in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees (you don't have to leave the chicken out of the oven while the temperature adjusts, just put it back in the oven and then reduce the temperature), and bake until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (160 degrees on a meat thermometer), about 25-30 minutes. 
  8. Make the Parmesan-Dijon sauce
    1. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter. 
    2. Once the butter has melted, add the flour, and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.
    3. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. 
    4. Stir in the bouillon and salt, and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat, and add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Keep the sauce warm while the chicken finishes cooking.
  9. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving, then top it with the sauce.
Source: Sauce, Chicken adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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