There are a lot of gluten-free breading recipes out there using either 1) pre-packaged conglomerates of stuff with dodgy ingredients or 2) crushed tree nuts, usually almonds.
Well, many tree nuts are problematic for me, and I know that the ones I care most about are off my food plan – pistachios and pine nuts. Other ones seem to be likely as well, but I really don’t miss those. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to limit nightshades — potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant — all of which I love. These, however, are non-critical to eliminate entirely, just severely limited, so I will make recipes containing these hither and yon. No nightshades today…
For this Cordon Bleu recipe, you can use boneless skinless chicken breast, of course — but if I’m changing things around to be gluten and tree-nut free, I might as well go with that more flavorful cut I prefer: a good boneless, skinless (in this case) chicken thigh. Mind you, a good chicken breast cordon bleu is one of the few forms of chicken breast I actually find moist enough to consider seconds on, and the ham and cheese moisture and yummy taste certainly doesn’t hurt!
I tested two types of outer coatings, both rolled oats and coconut flakes, as described below. I have to say, for me, the rolled oats won, but the coconut flake coating is suitable for those who wish to dine strictly Paleo.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Skillet – 15-18 minutes each round. Oven – 20 minutes.
Rest Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1 or two Cordon Bleus per person.
Special equipment: toothpicks, cooking rack.
Leftovers: re-heat in oven for continued crispiness.
Gluten-Free Chicken Cordon Bleu, with Boneless Thigh Meat
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat cut away. (Go ahead and use the breast meat if you prefer. Get the thin-cut slices.)
- 4 thin slices of a quality sliced ham (I like Applegate’s brand; they make an effort to raise/source their animals more humanely.)
- 4 thick slices of Swiss cheese – thin enough for flexibility
- 1 teaspoon (or so) of Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon (or so) of dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (or so) of powdered mustard (I used a spicy Oriental mustard simply because that’s what was available. The end result had a bit of tang that wasn’t “hot”.)
- Ground pepper to taste
- arrowroot powder/starch, about 1/3rd cup. (Rice flour is also gluten-free, and is also easier to find, if you don’t care that the recipe be Paleo.)
- 1 beaten egg
- the outer coating: about 1/3rd cup of either: unsweetened coconut flakes (Paleo) or gluten-free rolled oats, NOT instant, nor steel-cut. Break up the rolled oats using a mortar and pestle, or put some in a freezer bag, and run something heavy over them.
- Grapeseed (or other high temp) cooking oil. Safflower oil in a pinch. Note – the use of coconut or avocado oil (which are Paleo, unlike the grapeseed or safflower) for this is simply too pricy! The amount will depend on the size of your skillet. Add enough so that the oil comes up about 1/3rd the height of the meat you place into it.
As with anything chicken, wash your hands and equipment early and often!!!
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Set everything up before you start handling the chicken, for sanitary reasons. Have a bowl or plate for the arrowroot flour, a small bowl for the beaten egg, another bowl or plate for the coconut or oats. Pull out several toothpicks and set them aside. Add half the thyme, dried mustard, garlic powder, and ground pepper to the flour, the other half to the coconut or oatmeal, and mix. Pull out some plastic wrap and set a strip of it aside.
Pull out the chicken and lay it out flat on your meat cutting board. Assuming you’ve already cut away and discarded the fat, now cut off any of the knobby bits that stick up from the thighs. (Reserve these for something like a stir fry with lots of veggies for a base!)
Place the sheet of plastic wrap over the meat, and pound down with a blunt object. Yes, there are specialized tools for this, and they probably don’t cost much, but improvisation is even cheaper!
Discard the plastic, and layer the slices of ham over the chicken thighs (or breast). Follow with the Swiss cheese. Cut away any bits that overhang the base chicken. (Add to the center of the chicken if you feel there is room.) Smear with 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard per thigh.
Roll the thighs/ham/cheese up tightly, and secure with one or two toothpicks.
Roll the thighs around in the seasoned flour mixture so that all parts are covered.
Dip and roll in the beaten egg.
Roll in the crumbly mixture (coconut or oats).
Heat up the oil in your skillet so that a drop of water sizzles, and then some (do not allow the oil to smoke). Note that the hotter you can get the oil, the less greasy your food will be! Add the thighs — as many as your skillet size fits comfortably. Allow to cook about 4-5 minutes a side, and then do two or three minutes each edge. The crumbs should be a crispy toasty brown.
Remove from the skillet onto a couple layers of paper towel, to absorb extra grease.
In your baking pan – put a rack down so that the underside of the thighs remain crispy. Place the cordon bleus in here, edges not touching each other. (Hmm, what IS the plural of cordon bleu, or is there one?)
Bake 20 minutes (maybe only 15 if breast meat) at 350 F.
Remove from oven, allow to rest for five minutes. Remove tooth picks and serve.
END RESULTS AT THE GOATS and GREENS Homestead:
Both the coconut flake and the rolled oats were good. I seriously preferred the rolled oats with this treatment, however. This is the way I will be doing this dish in the future.
Suggested serving sides: Rice pilaf? Steamed broccoli or broccolini with butter and fresh Mediterranean herbs? A nice hearty salad with mixed greens and cukes and whatever may be in season, tossed with fresh tarragon, EVOO and red wine vinegar?
Final notes: If you are fine with gluten consumption, sub in regular wheat flour for the arrowroot. Sub in finely-crunched up dry breadcrumbs — making your own will limit the amount of weird additives in your meal — or Japanese panko for the coconut flakes / oatmeal. (I personally CAN eat gluten – at least at “reasonable” levels — but I prefer to limit my intake to what I eat dining out, if at all possible.)
PS: I’m not sure if coconut is considered a “tree nut”. I digest coconut just fine, while a friend of mine cannot digest either coconut or tree nuts.
PPS: The kitchen (and house!) smelled mighty fine after!