Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This week’s theme is ‘reinventing the classics,’ so I thought I’d update an old school chicken dish I use to eat as a kid. Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of the few things my mom bought pre-packaged, and who can blame her? Stuffing and breading chicken breasts is kind of a pain in my opinion, so I decided to jettison that whole process. I guess you could call my recipe ‘deconstructed’ chicken cordon bleu. I also wanted to use some better ingredients than those old store-brought cordon bleus (which always had a tiny piece of ham in the middle, swiss cheese, breading that got soggy on the bottom), so I grabbed some jamon Serrano, gruyere, and emmentaler cheese from DiBruno Brothers.

½ onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
10 oz. water
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
½ lemon
2 bay leaves
10 oz. ice cubes
1 oz. salt
Black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar

In a 12” pan over medium heat, add a little olive oil and sautee the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for about 5 minutes, until softened and the onion slices start to get translucent. Add the 10 oz. water, along with the thyme, rosemary, lemon (squeezing the juice into the brine and removing any seeds), bay leaves, salt, black pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add ice cubes.

Transfer brine to large Ziploc bag. Make sure the mixture is cool, and add chicken breasts. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

For the chicken:
2 large breasts, brined
4 slices jamon Serrano

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Remove the breasts from the brine and pat dry. Slice in half vertically, and wrap a slice of ham around each half. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

For the Sauce:
~5 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp butter (plus extra for the mushrooms)
2 tbsp flour
1.5 cups whole milk
½ cup emmentelar cheese
¼ cup gruyere cheese
Nutmeg (about 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon)

In a 10” pan, melt some butter and sauté the sliced mushrooms for about 5 to 7 minutes, lightly seasoning with salt. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add 2 tbsp of butter, and once melted add the 2 tbsp flour. Whisk to form a roux. Meanwhile, have the milk heating on another burner (or in the microwave). Add warm milk to the roux about ¼ cup at a time, whisking to incorporate. Once all the milk has been incorporated, add the chesses, along with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (should only take a small amount of nutmeg – it’s powerful stuff). Add the reserved mushrooms, and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Bread crumbs:
3 sprigs thyme (whole)
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled

In a large pan over medium heat, add a decent squirt of olive oil. Break/cut pieces off the baguette and add to the oil, along with thyme and garlic. Sauté until the bread starts to get crispy, about 5 minutes. Discard thyme and garlic.

Serve the chicken breasts along side the sauce and bread crumbs. Pair with roasted potatoes and blanched asparagus.


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