I may have no right to call this dish Chicken Cordon Bleu, but there are so many different variations that I am taking the liberty to do so.
|My version of Cordon Bleu is stuffed
with salami, Irish Wensleydale cheese
with cranberries and wilted spinach.
Turns out Chicken Cordon Bleu did not originate in France, as I have always thought, but in Switzerald around the 1940’s, although as with much food history disagreement abounds. From what I’ve learned it has nothing to do with the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, however top chefs are awarded a Cordon Bleu (Blue Ribbon) for their excellence and high standard of cooking. The term Cordon Bleu relates to a special order of French Knights. Originally these Knights wore a wide blue ribbon designating them as the highest order of knighthood instituted by Henri III of France in 1578. Wouldn’t this lead you to believe this is a classical French dish? Many regional dishes throughout Europe share the characteristics of Chicken Cordon Bleu–namely chicken, veal or pork (think snitzel) wrapped around meat (generally ham) and cheese. In Switzerland this, of course, is Swiss or Gruyere cheese. In some cases the filet is breaded and deep fried or simply baked. Here is my version.
CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
4 chicken breasts, pounded evenly to just under 1/2 inch
4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. per breast
4 tsp. nice, grainy mustard, 1 per breast
10 oz. Bag fresh spinach, wilted
4 slices good quality Italian salami per breast
Enough cheese to cover filling. I used an Irish cheese called Wensleydale that is infused with cranberies.
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil to coat breasts once they are stuffed and rolled. This technique is known as a roulade. The term roulade is French meaning rolled and stuffed and is used for both sweet and savory dishes.
Preheat oven to 375. Rinse spinach thoroughly. Heat a large pot and drop in spinach. The moisture from the rinsing is all you’ll need to just wilt spinach, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool and squeeze out any moisture if necessary. Evenly pound chicken breasts until they are just under 1/2 inch thick. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Lay breasts flat with inside up. Spread each filet with 1 Tbsp. Mayo and 1 tsp. Mustard. This keeps the chicken super moist. Lay 4 slices of Italian salami on each breast. Top with wilted spinach and generous amount of cheese. One of my husband’s favorite cheeses is Wensleydale with cranberries. This cheese was originally made in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire by an order of Cistercian monks as far back as 1150. It’s a mild cheese and the cranberries lend a delicious sweet/salty combination of flavors. Originally made with sheep’s milk, it is now made throughout the UK and Ireland with either sheep or cows milk. This version is from cows milk.
Roll each breast from the long side using your fingers to keep pulling stuffing inside as it tends to slip as you roll. Lightly oil a piece of foil and lay breasts, seem side down in a baking pan.
Top each roulade with a little olive oil and a sprig of rosemary. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes. More time may be needed if your chicken breasts are very large. I have become a big fan of testing with a meat thermometer. 165 degrees means you are done!
Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes. I decided to cut into thick slices and lay on a bed of greens with lightly steamed peapods and pickled beets.
All for today.
Tomorrow we embark on an epic journey
throughout the Baltic Sea. Can’t wait to
taste treats from Copenhagen, Stockholm,
Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Warnemunde Germany, Tallin Estonia AND Oslo!
TUNE IN AGAIN SOON…