Chicken cordon bleu, the darling of buffet tables and formal dinners for many years, still makes a special family dinner. Chicken cordon bleu is always finished in the oven, although you can pan-fry it briefly to ensure a golden brown coating if you prefer. The secret to juicy, delicious chicken cordon bleu is to pound the chicken so it is evenly thin and cooks quickly.
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When using commercially prepared chicken cordon bleu, follow the package directions, which usually recommend baking it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated through. The bread coating has already been browned on commercial chicken cordon bleu. For home-baked versions, select your cooking method based on the breading.
Some breadings call for a small amount of butter or oil, which naturally browns in the oven without frying. Other recipes instruct you to dip the chicken in butter before breading it, which also helps brown the breading. Oven bake both types of chicken cordon bleu. For dry breadings that have no fat, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet. Fry the chicken cordon bleu in the skillet, turning after 5 minutes, so all sides are nicely golden. Then transfer to a baking dish and bake in the oven.
Place the prepared chicken cordon bleu in a baking dish with the seam side down. Bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes. Watch the chicken carefully to avoid overcooking, which will dry it out. Some of the cheese will ooze out during the cooking process, which is normal and will further enhance browning.
Chicken cordon bleu is not difficult to make, but it does require several steps. Prepare all your ingredients ahead of time to stay organized. Use a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to pound the chicken, and take care not to tear or crush it. Roll the chicken tightly once you've filled it with the ham and cheese, and secure it with a toothpick. Remove the toothpicks before serving it.