A recent rerun of Iron Chef America featured New York chef Nicolas Cantrel challenging Iron Chef Marc Forgione in a “Battle Gruyère.” I decided to put my own sous-vide spin on Chef Forgione’s take on Chicken Cordon Bleu.
The ingredients are similar to a traditional Cordon Bleu. However, we used chicken thighs instead of breasts, prosciutto in place of ham, and Gruyère stood in for Swiss cheese. Rather than flattening the breast, rolling it up, and tying it as in Pam’s Chicken Dockside, I simply lightly pounded the thigh meat where needed, and brought the sides up to the center to form a round ball shape. The “ball” is wrapped in two pieces of plastic wrap and tied to form a perfect little sphere.
After removing the chicken from my SousVide Supreme, I browned it over high heat in clarified butter to transform the skin to a golden hue with perfect crispness. The forming of the balls is the trickiest part of the prep, but it’s worth fussing with it a bit — the end result is a fantastic presentation and tastes sublime.
I always purchase skin-on, bone-in thighs. I debone them myself because it is far more cost-effective and one of the easiest pieces of meat to debone. You actually end up with a lot more meat because the butcher tends to “butcher” the thigh when deboning. It’s a cost saver and, in my opinion, provides better-quality chicken thighs.
Serves 2 as an entrée, or 6 as a appetizer accompanied by a small salad
- Preheat the water bath to 148°F (64°C).
- Cut 12 pieces of plastic wrap, each measuring about 12 by 15 inches. Position 2 pieces on top of each other crosswise, creating a square shape roughly 15 by 15 inches. Repeat with the remaining 10 pieces of wrap (you’ll have a total of 6 “squares”).
- Place a chicken thigh, skin side down, in the center of each square. If the thigh is not flat enough, you may want to pound it slightly to make it even. (Be sure to cover the meat with parchment as you pound it so as not to tear it.) Season the chicken with pepper. Place a prosciutto slice atop each thigh so that it is within the perimeter of the thigh. Center a cube of Gruyère on top of the prosciutto, and zest a small amount of lemon rind over it all.
- Now bring the sides of the chicken up so they surround the prosciutto and cheese, holding the package so it forms a ball. While holding the chicken bundle at the top with one hand, bring the plastic wrap up all around the bundle and gather the edges of the plastic wrap together at the top. Twist the plastic a few times and secure it by either knotting the excess plastic wrap itself, or using a rubber band to close it tightly. Your finished package should be roughly ball shaped. Repeat with the remaining thighs to form a total of 6 packages. Transfer to food bags, 2 or 3 thighs per bag, and vacuum seal.
- Cook not less than 60 minutes or more than 90 minutes.
- Place about 4 tablespoons of clarified butter over high heat in a large heavy pan, preferably cast iron. When the pan is hot, remove the plastic wrap from the chicken and pat each chicken bundle lightly with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Place the thighs carefully in the hot pan, skin side down, and begin to brown all over. Place the fresh thyme in the pan, tilt the pan slightly, and with a large spoon, continue to braise the thighs with the butter, adding more butter if needed, until the meat is evenly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.