As my inaugural contribution to this new venture, I wanted to call on a classic not the world over but certainly in our childhood home. The dish whose true name was not discovered until many years later was known to us children as 'toothpick chicken' which, no surprise, was held together by toothpicks. Despite this obvious moniker known to my sister and I, the true name of this recipe is a slightly altered version of Chicken Cordon Bleu. While I hope to stretch my culinary skills in future posts, I wanted to keep this week's adventure familiar and sentimental because that's what this blog is all about: connection in spite of physical distance over something sacred and enduring, a Sunday meal.
Another reason why I choose this recipe was because anytime you can dress up chicken to be a crowd favorite that in and of itself makes it special. Chicken was a staple in our household, along with grape Kool-Aid, bacon, and yoo-hoo but more on that in the future. So when this seemingly 'fancy' dish made an appearance we knew we were in for a treat.
|No this is not a 'zester'|
Finally, for those just starting out on this culinary scene (I am including myself in this group) or those who already knew that a zester wasn't just someone who used the infamous pungently smelling soap, this will appeal to you …and you. For those of us less skilled, it will give you a chance to deliver a flavorful meal to your family. For those of you more skilled, especially in the assembly portion of this meal, well yours will look good in addition to tasting great.
I hope you enjoy "toothpick chicken".
I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website as adopted from Emeril Lagasse. It mostly closely resembled what I grew up eating. Based on my recollection, the prosciutto was left out of the recipe when we were kids but feel free to keep it in based on your own family's tastes. Also, I will be substituting Panko bread crumbs since they give a lighter texture and better crunch. I will be using mozzarella cheese instead of Swiss which is better suited for my and my husband's taste buds. My variations are in red below. Finally, since this is just the protein portion of the meal, I would suggest serving with a heaping portion of steamed veggies to keep this meal healthy and balanced!
Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese (4 to 6 slices) (I will be using mozzarella)
- 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or Black Forest ham (optional)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Emeril's Original Essence or Creole Seasoning
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup fine unseasoned dried breadcrumbs (I will be using Panko)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Cut each piece of chicken in half horizontally and place each piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound out to a 1/4-inch thickness.
- Place the 8 chicken pieces on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide cheese evenly between 4 pieces of chicken. Arrange prosciutto slices evenly over cheese; top with remaining 4 pieces of chicken. Tuck in any cheese or prosciutto that extends over the edges. Secure chicken pieces together using toothpicks along the edges to form a "sandwich."
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- Place flour in a shallow dish; season with 1 tablespoon essence. In another shallow dish, mix together eggs and milk using a fork. Place breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish; season with remaining 2 teaspoons Essence. Dip a chicken "sandwich" in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture, followed by seasoned breadcrumbs; transfer to a plate. Repeat process with remaining chicken "sandwiches."
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken "sandwiches" in skillet and cook, until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn chicken and cook 2 minutes more.
- Transfer to prepared baking sheet and place in oven. Cook until cheese is melted and bubbly and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve immediately.