Most people have heard of chicken cordon bleu, but there’s a good chance that many of them have never tasted it. And that would be a shame.
The origin of cordon bleu dishes is somewhat in dispute. Some say it has its roots in France (chicken). Still others credit the Swiss (schnitzel) and the Austrians (veal). Wherever they came from, cordon bleu recipes are keepers.
There are probably a lot of people who look at a cordon bleu recipes and think these are too much work. Actually, they are far easier to make than you may think. Once you have all the ingredients in front of you, it’s a snap.
I recently made pheasant cordon bleu, taking advantage of some of the wild game taken during this fall’s hunting season. I received the recipe from my friend and hunting companion, Mark Young, who in turn got it from another friend and hunting buddy, Howard Hardy of Indianola, Neb.
It seems that “Tuffy,” as Howard is known by close friends and family, found the recipe along with several others for pheasant on a now-defunct website of the late Tony Dean. Dean was well-known in Upper Midwest hunting and fishing circles because of his popular regional TV show (“Tony Dean Outdoors”) and radio broadcast (“Dakota Backroads”).
Dean credited chef Mark Mancuso of La Minestra Restaurant in Pierre, S.D., with the recipe, which I tweaked a bit for my own tastes. It was very delicious, as it was complemented by some winter squash, coleslaw and rice.
While cordon bleu entrees are relatively new in terms of food history, don’t sell this tasty dish short.
Pheasant Cordon Bleu
4 pheasant breasts (can substitute chicken breasts)
4 slices Havarti or Swiss cheese
4 slices ham
1 cup seasoned flour (recipe follows)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (recipe follows)
3 beaten eggs
Olive or canola oil (enough to over half of pheasant at all times)
Pinch of minced sage leaves
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon minced sage leaves
Mix all ingredients together.
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Place pheasant breasts on large sheet of aluminum foil. Fold one side over and with a flat meat mallet gently pound the breasts to flatten them. Roll the ham and cheese inside the pheasant breasts. Roll first in seasoned flour then into egg wash and finally into bread crumbs. Place in hot oil (350 degrees) and fry until golden brown on all sides. Be sure to use enough oil to cover half of pheasant at all times.