Chicken Cordon Blue and Brussels Sprouts…Who Would have Thought?

It is warm outside and the herbs and summer crops are starting to come in. Nothing beats the flavor and freshness of homegrown herbs. On one of my pilgrimages to M&T Meats in Hawkinsville, I decided to try their chicken cordon blue. After chatting with Mr. Phil, I soon learned that this French classic has been given a dose of Southern hospitality a la Hawkinsville!

Fresh, locally grown chicken breasts were split and stuffed with one of my favorite local cheeses Monterey Jack from M&T Meats. Creamy and full of garden goodness, this cheese was the perfect surprise and binding agent for this dish. A piece of ham was also placed inside the chicken breast, which was further seasoned with a perfect blend of herbs – parsley, thyme, and oregano. Wrapping the now split and stuffed chicken breast were two pieces of M&T’s famous thick cut bacon and a further outer coating of the aforementioned herbs.

Eating such fresh products makes all the difference and I recommend you purchasing from your local meat shop whenever you can. Taking the now Hawkinsville infused chicken cordon blue home, my supper time menu was set. I did need a green element and I was having a hankering for Brussels sprouts. I crave these little cabbage-esque flavored sprouts every now and then and the best way to prepare them is to roast them. Olive oil, salt and pepper are all you need, and a garnish of basil, lemon, and rosemary at the end is tres magnifique. The heat from the roasted veggies wilts the herbs and releases their essence and the lemon juice. Squeezing a bit of the lemon juice add an extra dose of zest to the sprouts. This is just delicious my friends! Cutting the sprouts lengthwise gave them more surface area to caramelize, which is the point of roasting – to bring out the natural sugars and caramelize or oxidize the sugar through heat and chemical reactions. That’s a bit of a scientific way to say “it makes ‘em good.”

Once I was home, I placed the chicken breasts in Dutch oven and covered them with a can of cream of celery soup and some water. Baking the covered dish @ 375 for an hour cooked the meat thoroughly and the liquid kept everything moist. For the last 10-15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon, remove the breasts from the Dutch oven and place them on a roasting pan, broiling them on low until they reach desired crispiness. You will have to turn them carefully to ensure crispy bacon all around. Trust me, the hassle is worth it. You can also leave them in the Dutch oven and remove the lid to broil them…this doesn’t brown the bacon all around but gives a nice, crispy cover.

Easy and fun to make, this quick meal was surprisingly elegant as well. I’m sure some starch would have been fine too, but this duo plated beautifully and was quite filling on its own. If you are not close to Hawkinsville, then make up your own chicken cordon blue recipe. The combo of fresh herbs, chicken, bacon, and cheese made this dish special and delightful. From this Farmer’s home, garden, and table…enjoy a classic French dish with a Southern accent!