Though I’m aware of how very close Thanksgiving Day is, I’m uncertain whether sharing my family’s traditional feast is relevant to the world at large. Our meal, which bears a precise resemblance to our Christmas dinner, consists of the usual things you’d expect in a ritualistic gorging of a plentiful harvest.
Turkey. Sweet potatoes. Candied Carrots. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Green beans, Olives, pickles, cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Butternut squash. Ambrosia. And dinner rolls. Oh, and chocolate, banana coconut cream, pumpkin, and mince meat pies. That’s everything that will be on my kitchen table on the 27th.
However, everyone has a traditional family meal, some precise way your mother makes the world’s best gravy and stuffing, or some delicate love-laden maneuver for roasting, basting, and slicing open the plump bird. I am not so pompous as to prepose that my Turkey-Day supper could possibly compare to the generations-long recipe perfection of anyone else’s family. And so, I will offer a different kind of bird meal, one which will make a handsome alternative to the eventual Thanksgiving turkey.
Chicken Cordon-Bleu, or my particular variation of it, is a boneless, skinless chicken breast stuffed with cheese and ham. It’s simple and delicious. And, it sounds gourmet.
4 Boneless Skinless chicken breasts
8-ish thin slices of Ham (deli OR prepackaged)
8 oz brick of Swiss Cheese (orwhatever you prefer. Traditionally, it’s swiss.)
¼ cup Milk
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
Preheat the oven to 350. Make a two-inch slit in the chicken breasts along the thickest sides, three-quarters of the way deep. Set the chicken in a 9”x9” cake pan (that’s what I use anyway. Feel free to use anything with sides). Cover the bottom with water, and cover all of it loosely with aluminum foil. Stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the sliced ham, and slice four ¼” thick slices of cheese. These will later be stuffed into the slit. Cube the remaining brick cheese and toss it into a small or medium saucepan on medium heat. When it begins to melt, slowly stir in the milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Add dashes of flour as needed to thicken, or splashes of milk to thin. Let simmer on low.
When the chicken is almost fully cooked, carefully take it out. Put a fork into the slit and turn it just enough to stuff a slice of the cheese and some chopped ham into the opening. Remove fork and repeat on the remaining 3 pieces of chicken. Pan sear the chicken, then plate. Pour the cheese sauce over top and serve.
The best thing about this is how quick it is. Just be careful not to burn your fingers on the hot chicken. Serve it with a health portion of vegetables and a garlic roll or small portion of pasta (you could pour the cheese sauce on that too!).
Harmony Brush is a current Lesley University graduate student living in Rochester, NY. She loves people and writing and has a food blog at DharmaDiner.org.
Article Image by: Creekster, Flickr