I should tell you right off the bat that that the aforesaid claim is not mere gastronomic hyperbole  and that  this  is a simplified version of Chicken Cordon Bleu that will not challenge the less dextrous. It cooks faster than the classic version which has the ham and cheese stuffed into a pocket cut into the boned chicken breast or rolled up tightly in the flattened breast.  This isn’t exactly for the weight conscious or virtuous eater but is worth every heart stopping, artery clogging and hip inflating gram of fat. And I’m not saying that just because my husband happens to work and live a five hour flight away, most of the year. Or maybe I am.

Preparation: 20 mins  Cook: 10 mins  Serves: 4

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts halves
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
8 slices smoked, Swiss or your favourite cheese
8 large slices lightly smoked ham
70 g (2/3 teacup) all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
120 g (2 teacups) fresh white breadcrumbs (less tendency to overbrown or burn)

  • Make a horizontal cut along one side of each piece of chicken breast and cut almost but not quite all the way through to the other side, until you have a large, thin piece of meat. This technique is called butterflying.
  • Season each piece lightly with salt and pepper.  Lay 2 slices cheese on each opened out chicken breast, in a single layer. Lay 2 slices of ham over the cheese on each piece of chicken. The ham should completely cover the cheese. Press down firmly with your palm.
  • Coat each piece of chicken evenly with flour and gently shake off excess.  Dip both sides of floured chicken into the beaten eggs and let excess drip off.
  • Evenly coat the chicken with breadcrumbs, pressing them onto the meat so you get a good thick coating. Place chicken pieces on a plate and chill for at least 10 minutes.
  • Heat about ½ cup light vegetable oil in a heavy pan and when moderately hot, gently lower in chicken pieces two at a time. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side. The chicken will cook fairly quickly.
  • When done, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve immediately. I like this with sautéed slender asparagus.

Drink suggestion: A Sauvignon Blanc is very good if you’re having this with asparagus, if not, a Chardonnay or a Gewurztraminer. If you like rose or blush wine, it wouldn’t be out of place here either.