What is Veal Cordon Bleu?

Laura Evans

In its basic form, veal cordon bleu is a main course that includes veal steaks, ham, and Swiss cheese. The veal slices are pounded thin and then assembled with the ham and cheese. The "packages" are dipped in a combination of beaten eggs and milk, dipped in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped in breadcrumbs, and fried in melted butter until done. Like other recipes, the recipe for veal cordon bleu has evolved over time. Interested cooks can find recipes using chicken slices instead of veal slices, different types of cheeses instead of Swiss cheese and recipes for baking instead of frying this dish.

Sliced prosciutto, an ingredient in veal Cordon Bleu.
Sliced prosciutto, an ingredient in veal Cordon Bleu.

A simple veal cordon bleu recipe calls for veal steaks, thin pieces of ham, and thin slices of Swiss cheese. In addition, the recipe calls for flour, dry bread crumbs, salt, pepper, eggs, milk, and butter. The cook should pound the veal slices until the slices are thin, or "scalloped." Veal scallops are also available in some grocery stores for those who do not want to take the time to flatten their veal.

Veal.
Veal.

To assemble the veal cordon bleu, one piece of veal is placed on a flat surface. The cook should place a piece of ham and a piece of cheese on top of the veal. The package is completed with a final piece of veal. The edges are pressed together to "close" the cordon bleu.

Breadcrumbs are used to coat veal slices when making veal cordon bleu.
Breadcrumbs are used to coat veal slices when making veal cordon bleu.

Each veal cordon bleu package should be lightly coated with flour that includes salt and pepper to taste. The cordon bleu should then be dipped into a milk and beaten egg mixture, followed by the bread crumbs. After patting the bread crumbs into place, the cordon bleu should be dipped in the egg and milk mixture and the bread crumbs again.

Most veal cordon bleu recipes call for seasoned flour and breadcrumbs.
Most veal cordon bleu recipes call for seasoned flour and breadcrumbs.

Veal cordon bleu should be cooked in melted butter for about six minutes per side. Each side of the cordon bleu "package" should be golden brown in color before serving. The meats should also be cooked through.

A simple veal cordon bleu recipe uses milk and butter.
A simple veal cordon bleu recipe uses milk and butter.

Other recipes call for a sauce that combines the pan drippings with white wine to be poured over the veal cordon bleu before serving. Others use prosciutto instead of ham. Some recipes suggest provolone instead of Swiss cheese. Interested chefs can try their own variations to add to the ongoing evolution of this dish.

Thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese are used in veal cordon bleu.
Thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese are used in veal cordon bleu.

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