Simple Chicken Cordon Bleu

*Simple Chicken Cordon Bleu*
Serves 4 to 6

A traditionally complicated dish, simplified.  Delicious and quite easy really!

25 buttery round crackers
4 slices of sourdough bread
6 TBS butter, melted
8 thin slices of deli ham
8 ounces of emmenthaler cheese, grated (about 2 cups, Swiss)
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to use free range chicken)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large free range eggs
2 TBS Dijon mustard
100g of plain flour (about 1 cup)

Preheat the oven 225*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Have ready a large baking tray with a lip.  Stir together about 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper in a small bowl.

Put the crackers into a food processor and blitz until they are coarsely ground.  Dump into a bowl.  Do the same with the bread, dumping it into the same bowl.  Pour the melted butter over all and toss together.  Spread the crumb mixture out over the baking tray.  Bake them in the hot oven, stirring them from time to time, until golden brown.  This can take anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place in a shallow bowl.  Set the tray aside.

Wash your chicken breasts, pat dry and then cut a deep pocket in the thickest part of the breast, with a sharp knife, making an opening of about 3 inches, sliding the knife carefully inside to create the cavity without cutting through the meat to the back or the bottom.  Lay your slices of ham out on a board.  Top each slice with 1/8th of the grated cheese (about 1/4 cup), then roll the ham tightly around it to cover the cheese completely.  Stuff two of these ham rolls in each cavity of the chicken.

Beat the eggs, together with the mustard,  in a shallow bowl.  Place the flour in another shallow bowl.  You should have three shallow bowls laid out.  Place them in this order:  Flour, Eggs and then finally bread crumbs.  Season each chicken breast all over with some of the salt and pepper mix.  Roll each in the flour, then dip into the egg to coat, finally rolling each in the toasted crumbs, pressing the crumbs on to help them adhere.  Place them onto a clean baking sheet, when done, leaving a bit of space between each.  (At this point you could refrigerate them until you are ready to bake them  if you wished.)

Place them into the heated oven and bake for 10 minutes at the higher temperature.  Reduce the oven heat to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6, and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and the chicken juices run clear when it is pierced with a fork.  Transfer to a platter and tent with foil.  Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.