K went to a conference in San Francisco and ate delicious food with co-workers (which meant I ate cereal while standing at the kitchen counter) and then we jaunted off to Atlanta so we got a little behind in our Top Cheffery, but we tried our best to get caught up and choose what looked most delicious. During the “reinvent a classic dish” challenge, this meant Ed’s roasted chicken breast, ham and cheese croquette and spring onion soubise (a fancy word for sauce) — an updated take on chicken cordon bleu. As we would later learn, this was the beginning of Ed’s love affair with the croquette. But it was a justified love affair.
The free-range chicken breast I bought was uncharacteristically enormous so we decided to split it between us and use an additional two chicken thighs for the recipe. Because I didn’t split our shopping list very mindfully, neither of us had all the ingredients on hand to do the spinach puree, wrap it in the chicken breast and refrigerate it overnight. So we made the puree and let it set in the fridge for about 20 minutes instead. The spinach puree was very liquid and wouldn’t stay in the chicken so I”m not sure how refrigerating it overnight would have changed that. We called it kind of a saucy filling and went with it.
K bought some prosciutto instead of basic ham and got to work chopping it up in the food processor while I started on the bechamel. Note: Bechamel cooks quickly so you have to watch it. If you start a new job and wander off, it can separate and curdle and burn so keep your eyes on the bechamel (a saying I hope will replace, “Keep your eyes on the prize”). For as much as it was billed as a “spring onion soubise” — the sauce was really a Swiss cheese laden bechamel with a little bit of onion in it. Maybe that’s what a soubise is, who knows.
K was concerned that the prosciutto and bechamel balls rolled in panko wouldn’t hold together, but I pointed out that even if they didn’t hold their shape they’d be fried ham and cheese so they’d be really, really good. He’s a little more concerned with the aesthetics of dinner than I tend to be. However, when we fried up the croquettes they managed to stay pretty round.
We seared the chicken breast with the spinach “filling” and, in a separate pan, K seared the chicken thighs and deglazed the pan with white wine and chicken stock. When both were tender and done, I wrapped the chicken thighs in prosciutto while they were really hot, which meant the fat melted into the chicken. Yummy sigh.
K plated everything artfully (as always) and we dug in. The spinach puree/sauce in the chicken breast wasn’t particularly flavorful but we had extra prosciutto so I snuck a piece in the split chicken breast and the salt was much appreciated. The chicken thighs were really tender and the salty, melty prosciutto was a lovely compliment. Those fried ham and cheese croquettes were crunchy outside and melt-in-your-mouth cheesy amazing on the inside. And when you added the Swiss cheese bechamel to everything it just brought it over the top into creamy deliciousness. WAY better than the frozen chicken cordon bleu my mom served when I was growing up. From here on out, it’s croquettes and soubise when we need to get our cordon bleu on.