Cordon Bleu – the name conjures all kinds of amazing meals and recipes! Yet even a dish named after the famous cooking school can be updated!
The French term cordon bleu is translated as “blue ribbon”. According to Larousse Gastronomique cordon bleu “was originally a wide blue ribbon worn by members of the highest order of knighthood, L’Ordre des chevaliers du Saint-Esprit, instituted by Henri III of France in 1578.
By extension, the term has since been applied to food prepared to a very high standard and by outstanding cooks. The analogy no doubt arose from the similarity between the sash worn by the knights and the ribbons (generally blue) of a cook’s apron.”
The origins of cordon bleu as a schnitzel filled with cheese are in Brig, Switzerland, probably about the 1940s, first mentioned in a cookbook from 1949. The earliest reference to “chicken cordon bleu” in The New York Times is dated to 1967, while similar veal recipes are found from at least 1955.
There is a nice story told about the actual origin of the recipe – a large group of people had a reservation at a Restaurant in Brig (Switzerland). By coincidence a second, similar sized group showed up at the restaurant claiming to have made a reservation too.
As this happened in the early 19th century the cook was not able to find an adequate amount of meat for both groups in such short time.
She had then the brilliant idea to take the available meat, cut it into schnitzels, slicing these into a butterfly shape and filling them with ham and cheese before breading and frying, so that the amount of meat she had available was enough for both groups.
The owner of the restaurant was so happy about the idea that he offered her ‘the cordon bleu’ (the blue ribbon) a french metaphor for an excellent cook.
The modest lady answered that she does not need a blue ribbon, but that ‘cordon bleu’ would be a nice name for her creation. As the Italian say, ‘se non e vero, e ben trovato’ (even if it is not true, it is well conceived).
The Herbfarm restaurant is one of the finest eating establishments in the Americas, yet it remains sadly under-recognized due to the shy and retiring nature of its former head chef, Jerry Traunfeld.
As a young man, Chef Trauenfeld won the National Chicken Council’s cooking challenge to update the classic Cordon Bleu recipe. His use of fresh herbs as the breading won him a free trip to Paris and a nice check – and you can make this award-winning recipe in all of 15 minutes. 🙂
Proof that even authenticity can stand for a little additional shine when the change is done without altering the fundamentals of the recipe itself.
Also worth noting that this recipe and others that will be posted in the future like it prove the point that authentic cooking that is also easy is not an oxymoron! 🙂 Do try this fantastic Cordon Bleu recipe at your earliest convenience, Citizens!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- For the chicken and stuffing:
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 thin slices (2×4 inches) “real” black forest or Westphalian ham or other smoky dry-cured ham (or use prosciutto)
- 4 thin slices (2×4 inches) Gruyere cheese
- For the herb crust:
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Using a rubber or wooden mallet or the side of an empty wine bottle, gently pound the chicken breast, one at a time, between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper until they are ¼ inch thick and about 5 inches wide and 7 inches long. Or, better yet, get the butcher to do it for you.
- Season the top of each piece of chicken with salt and pepper. Lay a slice of ham and a slice of cheese over the bottom half of each breast, fold a ½-inch strip of each side inward and then fold the top over enclose the filling completely.
- Procedure on how to make the Herb Crust:
- Mix the parsley, rosemary and sage together in a wide shallow bowl or pie plate. One at a time, put a stuffed chicken breast in the herb mixture and press to make as many herbs adhere as you can, then turn and coat the other side with herbs.
- Set all the breasts on a plate until ready to cook. (At this point, breasts can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.)
- Heat the oil in large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the herbed breast with salt and pepper.
- When the oil is hot, carefully lower the chicken into the pan, reduce the heat into medium and cook, uncovered, until the underside is a deep brown color, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over and cook until well browned on the other side and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes more.
- Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and serve.
- Calories: 367.98 kcal
- Sugar: 0.26 g
- Sodium: 502.75 mg
- Fat: 17.56 g
- Saturated Fat: 5.38 g
- Trans Fat: 0.01 g
- Carbohydrates: 6.17 g
- Fiber: 3.87 g
- Protein: 45.73 g
- Cholesterol: 144.82 mg
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