Monday, September 17, 2012


 Chicken Cordon Bleu (Cordon Bleu is French for Blue Ribbon.  Ooh, la, la.) is a classic dish; that according to Wikipedia has been around since the 1940’s.  Because it is a tried, true, and timeless recipe, I have thought twice about messing with tradition. 
The traditional recipe is ham and cheese, stuffed into a chicken breast which has been dipped into flour, egg, bread crumbs, and then pan fried.  Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! That’s really yummy!
My mission, should I choose to accept it; is to lighten up the traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Since the mission is imparted to me by that weird voice in my head, it is very hard to decline.
 I tell my dear friend Laura about my mission and she pleads with me to take the assignment; although, if she knew it came from the voice in my head, she might reconsider.  Laura loves to cook, she is a great cook, and she will know if the dish doesn’t measure up!  She and countless others are counting on me to lighten up the traditionally heavy Chicken Cordon Bleu.
 I will accept the assignment, and do everything in my power to accomplish my mission! 
Today is Laura’s Birthday!!!  Hooray!!!  Happy Birthday my friend!  This is for you! 

Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Here’s what you need, except for the butter.  I used cooking spray instead of butter.
Mix the Panko bread crumbs and seasonings together in a small bowl.

Cut the cheese and the ham so that it will easily fit into the pocket.  This is what goes inside each chicken breast.

Pound the chicken to an even thickness between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.

Use a very sharp knife to cut a pocket along the length of the chicken.

Make an assembly line to stuff and top each chicken breast.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  You don’t need to season inside the pocket.
Open the pocket, and spread about 1 teaspoon of mustard inside. 
I put the mustard I would need into a bowl, so that I would not be tempted to put my chicken contaminated knife back into the mustard jar.
Then lay 1 1/2 pieces of cheese on the bottom.  I like an aged Gruyere, the stinkier the better!

Lay the sliced ham that has been cut into quarters, into the pocket.
Lay some more cheese on top of the ham.

Secure the pocket opening with toothpicks.  These pictures don’t show the toothpicks well.  It’s just like pinning the hem of your pants. (The first time I tried this I used colored toothpicks.  The chicken had turned so pretty with all the colors that had leached into it from the toothpicks!)


So far this is the same as the traditional recipe.  This is where the calorie reduction of the recipe comes in. 
A traditional breading method does not bake very well.   So here is the clever part.
 Only bread the top of the chicken, because breadcrumbs on the underside will just be mushy. 

Mustard is the magical ingredient that will act as glue for the breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken, and impart magnificent flavor!
Spread another 1 ½ teaspoons of mustard evenly over the top of the chicken breast,
then sprinkle about 2 ½ tablespoons of seasoned breadcrumbs over the mustard. 
Gently pat the crumbs down into the mustard.

Spray the top with a little cooking spray. This will aid the breadcrumbs in achieving a golden color.  If you have an oil mister, then mist with a little oil instead. 
I really need to get an oil mister.  Maybe the Mr. will buy me a mister!

Now bake on a sheet pan or a shallow baking dish for 30 to 40 minutes.*My chicken was really large so it cooked 40 minutes.

Let the Chicken Cordon Bleu rest for 10 minutes before serving.  This allows the cheese to set slightly, so that it won’t just run out all over the plate when you cut into the chicken.
The breading stays on the chicken and is crisp.  The mustard and the seasonings give such a great flavor that I don’t even miss the flavor, or the fat, that comes from the pan frying.   Here’s another bonus; the breading method used in this recipe is way easier than the traditional method.

Mission accomplished, and then some! 


Serves 4 

4                              Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8              oz           Aged Swiss cheese, cut into about 12 slices.  *If using Swiss cheese sandwich slices, then use 8 slices, cut in half.
3 ½         Tbsp      Dijon mustard
4              slices     Sweet ham, thin slices, cut into quarters
½             cup         Panko bread crumbs
1              tsp          Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning
                                Salt and Pepper
9 to 12                   Toothpicks, not colored 

1.        Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.
2.       In a small bowl mix together the panko bread crumbs, Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, and about ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Set aside.
3.       Place a chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.  Pound the chicken to an even thickness, about ¾ of an inch thick.  Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
4.       Using a very sharp knife cut a pocket along the length of the chicken breast.  Make the pocket as large as you can without cutting all the way through the chicken breast.
5.       Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper, there’s no need to season inside of the pocket.
6.       Start an assembly line to stuff and top each chicken breast.  The directions are for one breast, but do it for all 4.
7.       Spread about 1 teaspoon of mustard inside of the pocket you made in the chicken breast.
8.       Lay 1 1/2 slices of cheese in the pocket.
9.       Then 1 slice of ham that had been cut into quarters (use all four quarters).
10.   Lay another 1 1/2 slices of cheese.
11.   Now use 3 or 4 toothpicks to close up the pocket nice and tight, you don’t want that ham and cheese to escape.
12.   Spread about another 1 ½ teaspoons of mustard over just the top chicken.
13.   Top with about 2 ½ tablespoons of the seasoned panko bread crumbs.  Gently press the bread crumbs down into the mustard.
14.   Spray the bread crumbs on the top of the chicken with cooking spray, or if you have an oil mister, than mist with oil.  This will allow the bread crumbs to get a golden color.
15.   Put in the 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
16.   Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving, remember to pull the toothpicks out.

Check out this recipe at the Weekend Potluck!


  1. Oh you Smarty Pants! This sounds like a fantastic way to lighten this tasty favorite! Congrats on reaching your mission! =) I'm impressed.

  2. Hi Kari....this sounds and looks wonderful. I have yet to try making this, so I am inspired. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I made this dish last night and twenty minutes into cooking, the house smelled fantastic. It may be low-fat, but it was flavorful. I really liked the tip of breading only one side (saves carbs) and spraying non-stick spray on top of the breadcrumbs, instead of butter. It browned the breadcrumbs beautifully. Depending on the size of chicken breasts you use, you may not need the full 40 minutes of cooking time. My daughter, who doesn't like mustard, enjoyed it without even noticing the dijon, it added just the right amount of flavor without overpowering the dish. I will definately be trying more of your recipes. It was fun and rewarding. Mission accomplished! Laura