Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A few years ago I purchased the cookbook, Don't Panic- Dinner's in the Freezer, which had some pretty decent reviews.  I liked the variety of the recipes as well as the format.  The recipe page features a simple chart for a single batch, x3, x6, or x9....perfect for large batch cooking.  Not too long ago, a companion book came out, Don't Panic-  More Dinner's in the Freezer.  Some good reviews led me to purchase that as well.  (I know, I know....there are too many cookbooks to begin with in our home!!).  This book's been sitting up on the shelf, getting ignored as I pass it by for Cook's Illustrated recipes.  Poor thing!  A few weeks ago, I dusted it off and tried the first recipe.

The Chicken Cordon Bleu was pretty darn good.  Simple flavors, easy to make. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu
(Don't Panic-  More Dinner's in the Freezer)

Yield:  4 servings

Fill one shallow bowl/dish with:
      1/2 C flour
     1 TB paprika

Fill one shallow bowl/dish with:
     1 beaten egg

Fill one shallow bowl/dish with:
     1/2 C plain breadcrumbs (fresh or dried would both work)

Pound to uniform thickness, about 1/4" thick*
     4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Top each breast with
     1-2 slices of ham
     2 thin slices of Swiss cheese
     A dollop of the Bechamel sauce**

Roll up each chicken breast, and secure with a toothpick.  Dip the chicken piece in the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, rolling each time to cover completely.

Heat a skillet with a bit of oil and brown all sides of the chicken.  Place browned chicken on a baking sheet.  Flash freeze. Once frozen solid,  freeze individual or family sized servings in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.  Or vacuum pack, which is my preferred method.

To serve:  Completely defrost chicken.   Bake in a 375 degree oven until done (25-30 min.).   Pour thawed Bechamel sauce* over chicken for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

*You can pound the breasts and make pretty little spirals, or you can take a shortcut like I did.  Make a slit inside the chicken breast and fill with the cheese, ham, and sauce.  Works just fine!

You can see how the sauce on top is a bit grainy.  Make that fresh instead!
**The Bechamel sauce is supposed to be made ahead.  Some of it goes into the chicken, and the rest is divided into little baggies, frozen, and defrosted to pour over the chicken at the end of the end of the cooking cycle.  The milk-based sauce doesn't freeze very well.  It takes on a lumpy, grainy texture once frozen.  It still adds flavor, and I'd rather make it with the frozen sauce than without.  

The consistency of the sauce that's placed inside the chicken  isn't as noticeable as the sauce poured on top.  I would continue to make some sauce ahead, and place it inside the chicken.  Then I'd also make up a bit of this sauce on eating day and not freeze it.  I always have butter, milk, and flour on hand.  I don't always have Swiss cheese though.  So the next time I make this, I'll put a bit of Swiss in a baggie, pack it with the chicken, and add fresh sauce on top.

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