February 12, 2010 by skwishface
Chicken is boring. There, I said it.
Affordable, plentiful, healthful, versatile, and dull as crackers. Which is why it’s so versatile – it’s a blank slate for whatever flavors you want to throw at it. Like the main character in those wretched Twilight books. Utterly generic and personality-free, perfect for projecting whatever identity you wish upon her. There, I said it.
Anyway, it’s the never-ending conundrum for the family that cooks dinner at home most nights. What on earth to do with chicken to break up the monotony and make things a little more fun and interesting? Besides giving it a vampire boyfriend, that is.
Hows abouts we take chicken breasts, stuff ’em with ham and melty cheese, and pan-fry ’em up with a crispy golden crust?
Back when my Dad was a crazy bachelor, we had microwave meals more often than not. One of my favorites was this little processed hockey puck that called itself chicken cordon bleu. Now, I have no idea what real chicken cordon bleu tastes like. Or even what it looks like. But I have fond memories of that cheap frozen dinner – it most definitely inspired this dish.
Twilight did not.
Chicken Pseudo-Bleu (cost: less than $10, prep time: forever, cook time: 20 minutes)
2 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless/butterflied
4 slices deli ham
4 slices provolone cheese
2 tbsps dijon mustard
1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
1 whole egg
salt n’ pepper to taste
(printable version of this recipe over at Tasty Kitchen)
Probably you’re wondering about that whole “butterflied” thing. It’s a vital part of stuffing goodness inside the chicken breast. Don’t worry, I essplain.
… No, there is too much. I sum up.*
Finish up one, and turn your attentions to the other one. Or other six. Or however many you’re making. I don’t know your business.
Then just set them aside and let them think about what they’ve done.
Next, take that one egg and whip it up in a wide, shallow dish. Pour the Panko bread crumbs into a similar dish. Neglect to photograph most of this.
In fact, the only picture I remembered to snap was this one illustrating just what the hell I’m talking about when I say “Panko bread crumbs”.
You could probably use whatever bread crumbs you happen to have on hand, but these Panko thingies are awesome. They make this super-crunchy extra-crispy crust, so it’s like fried chicken without the actual deep frying.
Be sure to add plenty of salt and pepper to both the eggs and the bread crumbs. Seasoning is good.
Carefully lift each stuffed chicken breast and dunk it in the whipped egg. Coat both sides. Then drop your egg-coated chicken breast into the shallow dish of Panko. Flip it over to coat as much of the chicken in bread crumbs as posssible.
Work fast, so you can wash your hands ASAP. Ugh, raw raw raw, salmonella everywhere.
The sacrifices we make for good food.
I am not, however, willing to sacrifice my cute little camera in the name of good food. Breading the chicken takes both hands, so I had to put the camera down.
But then I heated up a skillet with shallow coating of olive oil and dropped the breaded chicken breasts right in.
It’s hard to monitor the done-ness of your chicken when it’s all covered in breading, so just pan-fry them over medium/medium-high heat until you can see the bottom layer of breading is golden brown.
Then flip ’em!
The cheese will melt. It will leak out the edges and make awful noises in the pan. Be not afraid!
When the chicken is firm and bounces back to the touch, and it’s golden-brown all over, it’s done! Haul it out of the skillet and get it on a plate real quick-like. The cheese is oozy and may slide out if you’re not careful.
The result totally trumps even my misguidedly fond memories of the microwave-meal chicken cordon bleu from my childhood. The boring old chicken breast gets slathered in flavor and rolled around in texture and morphed into something pretty kickass.
You know, like if Bella Swan suddenly developed survival instincts.
Yes, I know the main character of Twilight’s name. Don’t you judge me! I have a thirteen-year-old baby sister!
Anyway, I recommend plating up this chicken with a handful of green bean bundles. Your tastebuds will thank you.
*if you can name that movie, let’s be friends