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Chicken Cordon Bleu

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Chicken cordon bleu is a comfort-food classic of crispy breadcrumb-crusted boneless, skinless chicken breasts wrapped around thinly-sliced ham and melted cheese. The dish, which is Swiss in origin—a derivative of schnitzel—takes its name from the French term “cordon bleu” in reference to the wide blue ribbon worn by members of the highest order of knighthood, L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint-Esprit, instituted by Henri III of France in 1578. According to Larousse Gastronomique, “the term has since been applied to food preparation to a very high standard and by outstanding cooks.” It’s also the origin of the blue ribbon as first prize seen at county fairs and cooking contests the world over.

But you don’t need to be a top chef to prepare this easy chicken cordon bleu recipe—we promise. Getting the chicken to the right thickness, though, is essential. To avoid tearing the meat, pound it with a meat mallet or rolling pin in a glancing (diagonal) motion rather than straight down, working from the center of the breast to the edge. Placing each piece of chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment before flattening can help maintain order. An instant-read thermometer also comes in handy in this recipe, allowing you to check the doneness of the cutlets without cutting into one.

To balance its richness, serve chicken cordon bleu with a zippy salad of shaved radishes with mint and walnuts, or peppery greens like arugula or mizuna dressed in a tangy Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

Editor’s note: This recipe is from the 2019 edition of the “Joy of Cooking,” our February 2020 Cookbook Club pick.



4 servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1½ lb. total)Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

4 thin slices ham or prosciutto (about 4 oz. total)

4 thin slices Gruyère or Swiss cheese (about 4 oz. total)

¾ cup dry breadcrumbs

¼ cup finely chopped parsley (from about ¼ bunch)

1 large egg

½ cup all-purpose flour

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3 Tbsp. neutral oil (such as grapeseed or vegetable)



Step 1

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Trim any fat around edges of chicken. Working one at a time, place chicken between sheets of parchment paper and pound with a mallet or rolling pin until about ¼” thick. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.


Step 2

Arrange chicken smooth side down on a work surface. Cover one half of each breast with one slice of ham and one slice of cheese, leaving space around the edges. Fold breast in half over ham and cheese and press edges together to firmly seal.


Step 3

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk egg and 1 Tbsp. water in another shallow bowl. Spread flour on a plate.


Step 4

Press both sides of chicken in flour, shaking off any excess, then dip both sides into egg mixture. Coat all over with breadcrumb mixture, patting with your fingers to adhere. Transfer to a plate.


Step 5

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Cook chicken, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Bake chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°, about 5 minutes.

Adapted and excerpted from Joy of Cooking by John Becker and Megan Scott. Copyright ©️ 2019. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


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