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Chicken Cordon Bleu
A true American classic. Most people would associate this tasty dish with the famous French institute of the same name, as I did for some time. But as it turns out there isn't any connection other than a shared name. It first began to surface in the late 50s and early 60s as a specialty in upscale restaurants, and by the mid-60s Chicken Cordon Bleu was a staple of fine home cooking. It's believed that it was created as a spin-off from Chicken Kiev, a Ukrainian dish already popular in the states at the time.
I had never tried the dish until recently, spurred on by my dear wife and son. This is based on a recipe by Tyler Florence, and while I use chicken, veal could easily be substituted. Serves 4.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lay the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using flat side of meat mallet, gently pound the chicken until it is an even thickness, about ¼-inch thick (see notes). Remove top sheet of plastic wrap and lay one slice of the ham over the top to cover the breast, and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the ham. Tuck in the sides of the chicken breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the wrap. Squeeze the chicken log gently to seal and twist both ends to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken, ham and cheese. Set aside.
Season the flour with the salt and pepper. Mix the bread crumbs with thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and melted butter (the butter will help the crust brown.) Beat together the eggs and season, so the flour, the eggs and the crumbs are all seasoned.
When ready to begin remove the plastic wrap. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil or non-stick spray. Lightly dust the roulades with flour, dip in the egg wash and gently coat in the Panko crumbs and carefully lay in the baking pan. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until nicely browned.
Serve as is, one roulade per person, or cut the roulades into pinwheels and allow diners to serve themselves at the table.
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