April 4th is National Cordon Bleu Day.
Le Cordon Bleu (French for “The Blue Ribbon”) is the world’s largest school for hospitality education, for both cooks, service and management personnel. Originating in France, it now has 35 schools on five continents.
The inspiration for the school began in 1578, with a group of French knights called L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit. Each member wore the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon.
The knights became known for extravagant and luxurious banquets, known as “cordons bleus.” The order closed with the French Revolution.
In the late 19th century, the name was revived by a French culinary magazine, La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu. It offered lessons by some of the best chefs in France, and eventually grew to become a cooking school.
Le Cordon Bleu cooking school opened in Paris in 1895 and became one of the finest cooking schools in the world.
Recipes for Chicken Cordon Bleu and Veal Cordon Bleu emerged: chicken breasts or veal slices sandwiched with ham and Gruyère cheese, dipped in an egg mixture, rolled with bread crumbs and baked or sautéed.
Here’s a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu from Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats, who simplified the original recipe.
“Have you tried the French classic Cordon Bleu before? [Delicious but] it’s a pain to make. Flatten the chicken, roll it up with cheese and ham inside, dredge in egg, crumb it, fry it in oil then finish it off in the oven as you make the sauce…
“Phew! I got tired even just writing that out!
“So here is my shortcut way to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. It comes out of the oven beautifully golden all over, super crunchy, with gooey cheese inside. Just like the real deal that is deep fried, this is SO much easier and faster to make!”
She also replaces traditional bread crumbs with Japanese panko breadcrumbs. for a crunchier crust.
Thanks, Nagi! You can see here step-by-step photos here.
RECIPE: CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
Ingredients For 2 Servings
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F/180°C. Spread the panko breadcrumbs on a baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for 3 minutes or until light golden. Remove and scrape into bowl straight away.
2. CUT a pocket into each chicken breast, as per the photo below. Fold the cheese in half and place 2 pieces inside each pocket. Do the same with the ham. Close the pocket sf seal with toothpicks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. WHISK together egg and flour. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, and then into the panko. Transfer to a baking pan and spray with oil.
4. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. While the chicken is cooking…
5. MAKE the Dijon Cream Sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1½ minutes. Add half the milk and whisk until the flour mixture is blended in.
6. ADD the remaining milk, mustard and cheese. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve
7. SERVE in a pitcher with the chicken.
*You need to use a cheese that holds its shape well (helium is another option).
†If you can find small ham rounds, use 3 each to cover the surfaces of the chicken breasts.
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