What is Chicken Cordon Bleu?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Chicken cordon bleu is a French-inspired poultry dish, although evidence suggests that it was actually developed in the United States by chefs imitating other stuffed meat dishes from Europe. The name of the dish is clearly of French origin: cordon bleu means “blue ribbon” in French, and in French culinary tradition, it is awarded to food or chefs of particularly high quality. The most similar European dish is chicken Kiev, chicken stuffed with seasoned butter, dredged in bread crumbs, and fried. The dish was also likely heavily influenced by veal cordon bleu, a Swiss dish in which veal is wrapped in ham and cheese and fried.

Chicken cordon bleu is a delicious French-inspired dish.
Chicken cordon bleu is a delicious French-inspired dish.

The basic components of chicken cordon bleu are chicken, ham or prosciutto, and a cheese such as Swiss or Gruyere. Many recipes also integrate bread crumbs as a crust. There are numerous ways to prepare this dish — the simplest is to create a layered dish with chicken on the bottom, mostly cooked, with the ham and cheese added towards the end of the cooking process to be warmed and melted. Cooks attempting to make a more weight-conscious version might prefer this preparation, because it can be baked rather than fried.

Chicken breasts are a necessary ingredient in chicken cordon bleu.
Chicken breasts are a necessary ingredient in chicken cordon bleu.

Cooks can also slice a hole in the chicken, insert the cheese, and wrap the stuffed chicken in ham before rolling it in breadcrumbs and frying or baking it. Chicken cordon bleu most often appears in a rolled presentation, however, with the chicken butterflied and pounded flat and the ham and cheese wrapped up inside. The tightly rolled chicken can then be dipped in breadcrumbs and fried, grilled, or roasted.

Sliced prosciutto, a main ingredient in chicken Cordon Bleu.
Sliced prosciutto, a main ingredient in chicken Cordon Bleu.

To make a basic rolled chicken cordon bleu, a cook should preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) while preparing her other ingredients. She should butterfly four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pound them to a thickness of approximately 0.25 inch (0.635 centimeter). The chicken breasts are then laid flat, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and layered with a slice of ham or prosciutto and a slice of cheese on top. They are rolled tightly, and secured with toothpicks if needed. The cook should beat an egg and set it out in a shallow dish, along with breadcrumbs.

Chicken Cordon Bleu is often served with Gruyere cheese.
Chicken Cordon Bleu is often served with Gruyere cheese.

The cook then dredges the rolled chicken through the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, and sets it seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. She should then set 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of butter on top of each piece of chicken and bake the dish for 35 minutes or until the juices run clear. For an optional topping, a cook can simmer 0.5 cup (118.2 ml) chicken broth and 1 cup (236.5 ml) heavy cream on low, adding salt, pepper, oregano, and other spices to taste, and stirring it until it's thickened.

Eggs, which are used to make chicken Cordon Bleu.
Eggs, which are used to make chicken Cordon Bleu.
Breadcrumbs are commonly used to coat chicken when making chicken cordon bleu.
Breadcrumbs are commonly used to coat chicken when making chicken cordon bleu.
Chicken kiev is strikingly similar to chicken cordon bleu.
Chicken kiev is strikingly similar to chicken cordon bleu.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon79778

i make this all the time for my girlfriend. we love it! i usually use a noodle and sauce as a side dish. it's very easy to make and filling too!!

anon39450

we're planning to make this as our dish in our cooking class. hope we'll get it right. actually i already tasted this,but it would be nice if you yourself would eat what you made..

iluvsully

I am making this for Christmas dinner along with Caesar salad. Any suggestions for side dishes? I was thinking about long grain and wild rice...but cannot come up with a veggie. Any, suggestions would be most appreciated! Happy Holidays!

somerset

This sounds delicious, I imagine when you use prosciutto, you can use a little less salt because prosciutto tends to be on the salty side.

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