BBQ Bacon Chicken Cordon Bleu
Despite the French name, Chicken Cordon Bleu is decidedly an American dish, borrowing characteristics from European fare such as roulades and veal cordon bleu (cordon bleu simply French for “blue ribbon”). Numerous variations exist on the recipe, but the basics are boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rolled around a pork product (usually ham or prosciutto) and stuffed with a soft cheese such a mozzarella, Swiss or Gruyere. The chicken is usually breaded and deep fried (as you expect to find in the store-bought variety), but this classic American restaurant dish is easier to prepare and oh, so delicious when barbecued on the outdoor grill.
I’ve made this dish for my family for years in the oven, and while this recipe tastes fantastic baked, the simplicity of this dish allows the flavors of the grill to take it to a new level. All that is needed is a few minutes of prep time and another 45 minutes of cooking and you’ll be enjoying a fantastic meal any night of the week. The following amounts of the recipe are for one individual Chicken Cordon Bleu, simply adjust the recipe for the quantity you are preparing. What you’ll need:
- One boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 6-8 strips bacon
- 2 pieces, thinly sliced ham
- One slice Swiss cheese
- ¾ oz. cream cheese (about 1/4'” slice off of a standard 8oz. block)
- Croix Valley All Meat BBQ Dry Rub
- Croix Valley Garlic 'n Herb Sauce & Marinade
Begin by trimming any excess fat from the chicken breast. On a cutting board, butterfly the chicken breast or simply slice in half horizontally. On top of one half of the breast, place the 2 slices of ham, followed by the cream cheese, topped by the Swiss cheese and replace the other half of the chicken. Lay 3 strips of bacon on the cutting board in one direction and place the other three slices on top perpendicular and weave the slices together in a basic basket pattern. Place the chicken on top of the bacon weave, folding the ends of the bacon to the top. Flip the bacon-wrapped chicken over, making sure to tuck the ends of the bacon underneath. Coat the chicken with a healthy dose of dry rub and let it rest for a few minutes before placing on the grill or smoker.
Directions for the Smoker: (Approximate 45 minute cooking time)
Prepare your smoker to 275°F. If using a direct-heat smoker, place a drip pan below the chicken to reduce flare-ups from rendered bacon fat. Place the chicken on the smoker and cook for 45 minutes, basting with sauce during the last 15 minutes of the cook. Chicken will be done when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
Directions for the Grill: (Approximate 25-30 minute cooking time)
Prepare your grill to a medium-high heat of approximately 350-375°F, banking the coals to one side of the grill to cook over indirect heat. Using lump hardwood charcoal and chunks of hardwood for additional flavor will result in the best possible flavor, but cooking on a gas grill works great as well, especially if you use wood chips in a smoker box or foil pouch for that true barbecue taste.
Place the chicken on the grill outside the zone of direct heat. Flames directly underneath your chicken will cause flare-ups when the bacon fat melts, so be sure to cook away from direct heat! Once positioned properly, replace the cover and forget about it (for at least 20 minutes). The chicken should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F in about 25 minutes (check the temperature with a probe thermometer to ensure doneness). Baste with sauce during the last 15 minutes of the cook.
So simple and easy to prepare, this recipe for BBQ Bacon Chicken Cordon Bleu is sure to be a hit in your household. The bacon bastes the chicken as it cooks and the smoke from your heat source infuses with the delicate meats to create a dish unlike the mass-produced store bought varieties or the breaded and deep-fried versions from the supper clubs. Served with a side of steamed vegetables, pasta or rice, you’ve got yourself one exceptional dinner!