Friday, February 19, 2016

47. Chicken Cordon Bleu Tacos


I got the idea for this recipe from a fundraiser dinner that I attended a few weeks ago.  It was one of those situations where you have to choose your entree ahead of time - beef, chicken or vegetarian.  I chose the vegetarian option, which was a stuffed spaghetti squash.  That loosely inspired one of my other recent recipes, which you can find here.

My husband decided to go with the chicken option, which was a Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I had a bite (of course) and it really was good.  I was impressed - it's hard to pull off a dinner for that many people.  Something just always ends up getting dried out, you know?  Anyway . . . why had I not thought of it before?  Chicken Cordon Bleu Tacos!  I came up with TWO recipes as a result of that event.  It was a productive evening!  :)

I've never actually made Chicken Cordon Bleu as an entree.  I had to look it up.  Chicken.  Swiss cheese.  Ham.  That doesn't sound hard.

Well, it's really not.  There are a lot of steps, though.  Rather than just wrapping a stuffed breast of chicken in a tortilla, I decided to make the cheese into a sauce.  I also decided to transform the ham element into a tasty fried prosciutto garnish.  I'm not even sure if you're supposed to fry prosciutto.  Hmm.  Oh, well.  It was pretty good.

Well, here we go again.  This one was fun!  Here's the recipe:

Chicken Cordon Bleu Tacos

Serves 3 to 4 (about 8 to 10 tacos)


For the chicken:

2 large chicken breast halves, about 1 pound

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For the cheese sauce:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated swiss cheese

For the spinach:

2 heaping cups chopped spinach

1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the prosciutto:

One 3 oz. package prosciutto
1 tbsp. olive oil

8 to 10 flour tortillas


1.  Prepare the chicken pieces:  Cut the chicken into thick strips.  I got about 13 or 14 strips total.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2.  Make the cheese sauce:  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the flour, and cook, stirring with a whisk, until the butter is just slightly colored, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Add the milk, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard and stir until smooth.  Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Add the salt, and pepper.  Cook at a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.

Turn off the heat, add the grated cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Partially cover and set aside.

3.  Cook the chicken:  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Place the flour in a shallow bowl.  Place the beaten eggs in another bowl.  In a third bowl, combine the panko, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  Set up an assembly line (of sorts) with the flour, egg, and panko mixture.  Mine looked like this:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Dredge half of the chicken pieces in flour and then dip them in the beaten egg.  Roll in the panko mixture until each piece is full covered.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces.  Cook, turning once, until the panko coating is golden brown and the chicken is just fully cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes total.  Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Repeat the cooking process for the rest of the chicken pieces.

After draining the second batch of chicken pieces, remove the paper towels from the baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.

4.  Fry the prosciutto:  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  While oil is heating, dice the prosciutto.  Transfer it to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about five minutes.  Remove from the heat.

5.  While the prosciutto is cooking, toss the spinach:  Place the chopped spinach in a medium bowl.  Add the sherry vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

Taste, adjust seasonings, and set aside.

6.  Prepare the tortillas to your liking:  I prefer to heat mine in a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side.  After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil.  You can keep them warm in the 250 degree oven (with the chicken) if you wish, but I didn't bother as this was almost my last step!

7. Gently reheat the cheese sauce.  If it has cooled much, it will be probably be kind of thick and sketchy-looking.  Just whisk and reheat and it should be all right.  :)

8.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  Spoon on a small amount of the dressed spinach.  Top with a strip or two of the chicken.  Drizzle with the cheese sauce.  Sprinkle with some of the prosciutto and enjoy!

We both really liked these!  They did taste like Chicken Cordon Bleu.

There are a lot of elements and a lot of steps that need to be attended to at roughly the same time.  I completed steps four through seven rather simultaneously.  That kind of thing doesn't bother me.  If it bothers you, you might not enjoy cooking these!

If it sounds fun, trust me, you'll love these!  Invite a couple of your best friends over for Chicken Cordon Bleu tacos.  They won't get it at first.  They'll probably say something like, "Umm. (big pause) OK.  Yeah, whatever."  After they try them, it'll be more like, "Wow!  These are really good.  Kind of different, but good!  Thanks!"  :)

If you love prosciutto, you might want to fry two packs.  It's expensive, though.  I'd probably just ration it.  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  What other classic recipes should I try to taquify?

Thanks for reading!

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