Cordon bleu means "blue ribbon" in French - making the name of this dish "blue ribbon chicken". Once you've had a great version of it, then you'll want to agree whole-heartedly, as there is a wondeful burst of flavor in this dish. It's served in a variety of ways, from the traditional wrapping of chicken in ham and swiss cheese, to piling ham and cheese sauce on top (a la Arby's).

This delicious version sandwiches prosciutto and De Soto, Emmental or Gruyere cheese in between two thin scallops of chicken. Then it is breaded, and fried in olive oil, and topped with a delicious sauce. The result can only be described as "magnifique"!

This recipe, adapated from Emeril's TV Dinners by Emeril Lagasse, is one of the first real dishes I attempted to cook. My first time was marked by inexperience, whether it was not flattening the chicken thin enough (which was also due to lack of proper equipment), and nervousness which caused me to make other simple mistakes. Even then, the result turned out great.

Recently, I attempted it again for some friends. This time, I avoided making mistakes, and the dinner was an incredible hit, amazingly delicious from the first bite to the last. It may be a little complicated and intimidating for beginning cooks, but the result makes it all very worthwhile, and is a great way to impress company.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 thin slices prosciutto
4 oz prosciutto, cut into thin strips
8 thin slices De Soto or Emmental-style cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup sweet young peas, fresh or frozen
2 cup hot Mornay Sauce
Salt and pepper

First, take the chicken breasts and cut them in half. Then pound them out into thin scallops - be careful when pounding not to tear them into pieces. Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper.

Take four of the scallops, and place two slices of prosciutto and two slices of cheese on top, alternating between the two. Then, place another chicken scallop on top of each, and press them together.

In one shallow bowl place the flour, seasoning as desired. In another, combine the eggs and milk, and mix well. In a third, place the bread crumbs, seasoning as desired. Take each chicken/prosciutto/cheese stack, and dredge first in the flour, tapping off any excess, then in the egg/milk mix, letting excess drip off, then finally in the bread crumbs.

Take a large skillet, add the oil, and heat to medium-high. When hot, add the coated chicken pieces, and fry until golden brown. This should take 4-5 minutes per side. When done, place on paper towel to drain.

While the chicken drains, take a small skillet, and melt the butter on medium heat. Add in the prosciutto strips and peas, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 2 minutes. Then add them into the Mornay sauce.

Serve the chicken with the Mornay Sauce - either simply on top, or if you want to be fancy about it, spoon the sauce into the middle of the plate and place the chicken on top.

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