I decided to go outside the box and do some Chicken Cordon Bleu (CCB) on the grill. And while I was planning that I was reading about places to get good Chicken Spedini (CS) in St. Louis. Since many of the ingredients are the same I decided to do both. These are not the easiest dishes to prepare on the grill or not. It took a lot of work and I made some mistakes. Click the link below if you are brave enough to try this and want to avoid the pitfalls that ran into..,
Both of these dishes require some manual labor. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts need to be flattened into very thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The tools for this: two sheets of cling wrap and a meat mallet. Here is one of the chicken breasts pre pounding:
That breast is large before it gets flattened. But look at it after it gets pounded with the mallet:
Be careful not to pound too hard. If you do it will tear the chicken. How do I know? But the time I got to the 4th chicken breast I was bored of pounding despite having the Florida/Alabama game on to keep me occupied and the final one had a few tears.
Once all 4 breasts were pounded flat, I seasoned each side of two of them with coarse salt, cracked black pepper and some oregano. A little tip in dealing with large, flat pieces of chicken surrounded by cling wrap - peal back the cling wrap on one side, apply the seasoning, put the cling wrap back over the chicken, flip over and repeat. Here is a seasoned breast:
Then I added two sliced of swiss:
Now two sliced of deli ham (prosciutto could be used here if you want):
And here we have another layer of cheese and the rolling of the CCB:
If you are sick of touching raw chicken at this point you can roll it up using the cling wrap without actually touching it. I got my hands dirty as it is a little awkward with the cling wrap but can be done.
Here is the CCB rolled up and ready for dredging:
Speaking of dredging, the best method here is have everything ready to go and in logical order or you will make a mess. So in this case I have my dredging liquid which is just butter and sauteed garlic on the left and my dish with my breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs with some fresh grated Romano and a little paprika) on the right and the plate they go onto is farther to the right out of the picture:
Once the garlic was sufficiently sauteed I let the butter cool so I could dunk the CCB into it and not burn myself. Using a high sided saute pan cuts down on the cleanup from butter that drips off. Here we have a CCB buttered and dredged and ready for the grill:
Now onto the Chicken Spedini (CS). The recipe called for both sides of the CS to be dredged in breadcrumbs so I laid them out on round platters and simply brushed each side with butter from the butter/garlic mixture I used for the CCB:
Now for the stuffing. That butter/garlic mixture came in real handy. With a few extra ingredients it made a great stuffing. I brought the butter/garlic mixture back up to a simmer and added some shallots to saute in the butter as well as a little of the ham shredded into small bits. Then I added some flat leaf parsley at the end (always add fresh herbs at the end when cooking or the flavor will be washed out):
Here we have the stuffing mixture simmering:
I reduced most of the liquid out of the stuffing mixture, grated in some fresh romano and a little breadcrumbs to bind it and then I spooned it into a line lengthwise along the flattened chicken breasts:
Then I rolled them up and added toothpicks to keep the meat in place:
Here are the Spedini and the Cordon Bleu together and ready for the grill:
Since the CCB is decidedly thicker thant the CS I put them on first using my standard two zone method - coals on one side nothing on the other. In this case I indirected them by putting them on the side with no heat on a sheet of foil as that cheese is going to ooze and the foil will save it from falling through the grill grate into the grill:
I waited a bit too long to put the CS on but that just made me eat the CCB first and the CS a few minutes later when it was done:
You can see the CCB browning nicely and the cheese oozing
The CS really didn't really need to be on foil but it makes it easier to remove later as I can just pick up the foil and move both to a platter.
Here we have the CCB resting a bit and ready to be cut:
And here it is plated with a nice side dish my wife made with pasta and veggies:
And after I finished that plate I went and got the CS off the grill and brought it in to rest a bit:
And here is the CS plated on a small plate:
How to improve the process for the CCB:
- Truth be told, the CCB was a bit bland. The only garlic in it was in the butter that helped to bind the breadcrumb mixture. In the future, I'm adding garlic straight in with the ham and cheese. It will cook inside the chicken and bring it more inline with the way I cook.
- The oregano added a nice sweetness to it but I wasn't looking for oregano chicken.
- And finally I would probably go with a stronger flavored cheese. I just happened to have some swiss in the fridge so I used that. Maybe a smoked swiss of cheddar. Provel would be pretty good. And I could've grated some Romano in there as well to increase the flavor
- Oh, and be careful with the salt. With a large amount of surface area and very thin meat the salt can overpower. There were a few bites that were too salty for me, but I don't salt anything after I cook it other than french fries. If salted properly during the cooking process, salting after is not necessary.
How to improve the process for the CS:
- Honestly, the CS was really good. I would've put it on a little earlier should I do this again, but this is more of an experiment and not something I would do for guests so having both done at the same time isn't really all that important. I would go with one or the other and not both for guests.
- Instead of a little ham, some Andouille Sausage would've been really good in the stuffing. Not a lot and broken up into really small pieces so it doesn't operpower the chicken.