Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Wedding: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Wilson Lewis loves to cook. That's why, when his wife Jane comes home exhausted after another long day of helping their daughter, Anna, plan her upcoming wedding, Wilson has a delicious dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu waiting for her. (Read more about their story here.)

Now, I'm about seventy-five per cent sure that it was Chicken Cordon Bleu that was served at our own wedding nearly sixteen years ago. (I know it was a delicious chicken dish, anyway.) I realized that in the fifteen-plus years that Joe and I have been married, I have NEVER made Chicken Cordon Bleu. Why? I have no idea. Maybe I figured it would be too difficult and complex. Boy was I wrong about that! I perused the many cookbooks on my shelf for a recipe, but guess what? None of them have a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu. Maybe that's why I never tried to make it.

After browsing the Internet for one, I finally chose a recipe from Food Network's Tyler Florence:


4 double chicken breasts (about 7-ounces each), skinless and boneless
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices deli ham
16 thin slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons water

(My gluten-free and egg-free supplies...)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. 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. Lay 2 slices of cheese on each breast, followed by 2 slices of ham, and 2 more of cheese; leaving a 1/2-inch margin on all sides to help seal the roll. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll. Squeeze the log gently to seal.

Season the flour with salt and pepper; spread out on waxed paper or in a flat dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with thyme, kosher salt, pepper, and oil. The oil will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and water, the mixture should be fluid. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Gently coat in the bread crumbs. Carefully transfer the roulades to a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Cut into pinwheels before serving.

(I even made a few for Moe without cheese--can you spot them?)

When the family sat down at the table, Joe observed that there was no sauce with it, because isn't Chicken Cordon Bleu supposed to be served with sauce? Some of the recipes I found did have a sauce, but some didn't. After his first bite, he decided it didn't need a sauce. And I concluded that it's really and truly possible to make a gluten-free version of a gluten-rich dish, and it will taste just as good.


Wilson sauteed some unspecified vegetables to go with the chicken (as I observed in my last post, that's a very common side dish in Nick's books) so I grabbed some green beans and zucchini at Our Favorite Supermarket and cooked them in olive oil with some salt, pepper, and some of the fresh thyme left over from the chicken.


Speaking of gluten-free foods that taste good, I picked up a cake mix that my G-Free friend Wendy recommended, and whipped together a quick spice cake for dessert. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted! It was a little dry around the edges; next time I'll either reduce the cooking time or make cupcakes instead. (Plus I had to throw a lot of it away after a few days because, as I'm finding out, Gluten-free baked goods tend to get stale very quickly. If I make cupcakes I can throw them in the freezer.)

I can't wait to try the chocolate and vanilla cake versions. We ARE cooking The Wedding, after all; what's a wedding without a cake?

Next Up: Crab-Stuffed Sole, Round Two. Nick's characters seem to make this a lot (Julie made it for Mike in The Guardian, but I skipped that one), and I hope the next one will be even better than the stuffed halibut I made. Stay tuned!

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