Chicken Cordon… Puff!

I should start by admitting my addiction to puff pastry. It’s true. My name is Anamaris and I’m a Puff Pastry Addict. There. I feel better already. Mind you. I don’t think I’ll EVER attempt making my own puff pastry (knocks on wood, throws salt over shoulder). I love homemade, but I just don’t think I can make it for less than what it costs me at the store. I’m sorry, Martha.

Pre-packaged puff pastry is God’s gift to harried hostesses. It was conceived for people who love flaky things, but don’t have the time or skill to make it themselves. Yet, they long to whip up a batch of something delicious, pull it out of their ovens with a flourish and impress their guests. Oooohs and Aaaahs ensue. Cue the violins and chirping birds. Sorry.

Anydoo, how better to impress that special someone in your life on V-day than with a dish that looks like you slaved all day over a hot stove and a hotter oven? Hmm? Hmm? I bring you a twist on traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu. I present for your consideration…

Chicken Cordon Puff

2 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
1/2 cp Italian dressing (salad dressing)
2-4 slices bacon, thick cut
3 ozs Gouda cheese, or your choice
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

First you will need to butterfly or split the breasts in half and even them out. Place the thickest side of the breast closest to you. Make sure you’re working with a very sharp knife. Place your hand over the breast and guide the knife into the flesh. Your goal is to thin out the breast so that the thickness is all pretty even. Carefully work the knife through the breast, making sure you don’t go all the way through. You’re simply opening up the breast.

Once you’ve finished both breasts, you will need to even out the thickness. The easiest way is to use a ziploc bag large enough to hold one at a time; cut the bag open on one side and the bottom. Lay the breast down on one side of the bag, top it with the other end then use a mallet or a flat heavy pan to flatten the breasts out.

Pound it out a few times, just until it looks even. After that’s done, pour the salad dressing over both breasts, allow them to marinate while you get the other ingredients ready. Set aside.

Stretch out your bacon slices. Depending on the size of the breasts you will need 2 or 3 slices of bacon to roll each one. I used 2 for mine. Slice the cheese into 1-inch wide strips, long enough to go the length of the breast. Set aside.

Time to assemble it. Spread out the breast on your counter and place 1 slice of cheese each on one end of it.

Now roll it tightly, tucking any straggling ends towards the center.

Next, roll it in the bacon. Start at one end and work yourself towards the center. Then start the second slice from the opposite end and again work towards the center.

Set aside when done.

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Remove 1 sheet of the pastry and spread on a cutting board. When you open the package, you will notice that the sheet is folded in thirds lengthwise. Cut the sheet in half across the thirds. Stretch the pastry out a bit; be careful not to pull on the folds. Instead, pull between the folded sections.

Place one of the bacon-wrapped breasts on one end of the pastry and roll it to the other end. Try tucking in the sides as you roll it. Once you get to the end, pinch the seams and try to have all the seams at the bottom of the roll. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with the other one.

Brush the tops and sides of both bundles with the beaten egg. Using a sharp knife, score the tops of each roll. You can get creative here. Just make sure there are a couple of scores deep enough to go all the way through to the bacon. This will allow the contents to breathe without making the puff pastry go POOF!

Pop them into the freezer or fridge while the oven preheats. Preheat oven to 400°.

Bake them for 15 or until golden brown. Remove from  the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into them.

Slice before serving. Voila!

Cookingly yours, Anamaris

mmmMashed Potatoes

OK, let’s face it. Mashed potatoes are one of those basics that everyone loves and for which we all have our own standards. I like mashed potatoes, before this batch I didn’t LOVE them. I do now. The potatoes themselves are just standard issue mashed potatoes. I think the difference is in the topping. See, what had happened was…

I wanted to make confit (I did, post to come) and in order to make it I needed to render some fat. I got some pork fat and rendered it, I was left with what I’m guessing are cracklings. That’s the topping. OMG! You could sub bacon for the cracklings, so don’t freak out.

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cp heavy cream
1/4 cp butter (yeah, I know)
black pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
1/3 cp cracklins or bacon
1/4 cp onion brown butter sauce

Peel and quarter the potatoes and put them into medium size pot. Fill with cool water just to cover the potatoes, add salt and bring to a soft boil. These potatoes are very tender, a hard boil may cause them to break apart. They will need to cook for about 20 minutes or until a knife goes through easily.

Once they’re cooked, drain the potatoes. Place the pot back on the burner with the butter and cream, until the butter begins to melt. Put the potatoes back in the pot and begin mashing them immediately, stirring in the cream, butter and onion butter sauce. Check the salt, add pepper and nutmeg. Stir and serve topped with the cracklins and some more of the butter sauce.

I know I don’t need to say this, but I will anyway. ENJOY!