This chicken cordon bleu sandwich is easy and delicious, with crispy chicken topped with ham, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard sauce on a bakery bun!
When I was in college I was in a sorority (go Chi-O). I was pretty much the worst sorority member ever. I was an introvert back then too and was much more into the idea of hanging out with my (non-sorority member) roommates or Philip than attempting to make awkward small talk with the other 120 girls in my sorority. I became friends with lots of amazing girls, but essentially my only contribution to the sorority was my 3.8 GPA.
My two favorite things about my sorority (besides the four or five girls that I actually hung out with, the fact that the sorority’s colors actually happened to be my real-life favorite colors, and the fact that it gave me an outlet for my creative energy-I can still make an amazing omega and draw a huge variety of cutesy owls) were the creme de menthe parfaits we served to the recruits (we called them rushees back then) on the last night of recruitment (ahem, rush) and the stuffed chicken that was served every couple of months at Monday night dinner before our weekly meetings.
The chicken came in two varieties: broccoli and cheese and chicken cordon bleu. I had never had chicken cordon bleu at the time, but it seemed so exotic and SO delicious (news flash: it was frozen breaded chicken from Sam’s. And I thought it was the height of cuisine. I was a very different person back then.). I decided that I was going to make it myself, so I flipped through the pages of my one cookbook, which was, of course, the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which has pretty much every recipe ever written. Lo and behold, there it was: a recipe for chicken cordon bleu.
It was a disaster. Pure and simple. I was a very green cook at the time, and I ended up with a very overcooked mess with melted cheese running out the sides and I am sure some burnt oil. To his credit, Philip ate it like it was the best thing anyone had ever cooked for him (it helped that he pretty much subsisted on a diet of cereal, spaghetti, and fast food before we started dating, so I didn’t have to work too hard to impress him). I decided that night that I would never make chicken cordon bleu again. It was a nightmare of a recipe.
The problem is that chicken cordon bleu is delicious. I mean, crispy breaded chicken with Swiss cheese and ham? What’s not to love about that? But rolling cheese and ham up into a chicken breast and hoping that you can produce a dish that is simultaneously cooked through and not overcooked is asking a bit much. I decided that was nothing that a chicken cordon bleu sandwich couldn’t fix.
The first rendition of this sandwich did not go well. I attempted to make an oven-fried chicken cordon bleu sandwich, cutting the chicken breasts in half crosswise and pounding them out to make them thinner. They were still way too thick and they didn’t brown very well. I also used country ham, which is super-fabulously tasty but doesn’t exactly tear off the sandwich easily. We ate them but we were pretty “meh” about it. Second go-round, I decided to cut the chicken breasts into cutlets, shallow-fry them, and use deli-sliced ham. Those were all good decisions. This time around my chicken cordon bleu sandwich turned out just the way I wanted it.
If you have the chicken cordon bleu blues, try making my chicken cordon bleu sandwich!
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Yield: 4 sandwiches
15 minPrep Time:
20 minCook Time:
35 minTotal Time:
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 thin slices deli ham
- 4 slices Swiss or Havarti cheese (I used the kind that is cut for sandwiches)
- 4 bakery buns (I used torta rolls from Costco)
- 1/2 cup honey mustard dipping sauce
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to form 4 thin cutlets. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow container and whisk in 2 teaspoons of the salt. Place the chicken into the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish and whisk in the remaining salt and the pepper.
- Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and allow the excess liquid to drain away. Dip the chicken into the flour to coat, shake off the excess, dip back into the buttermilk, and repeat.
- Fry the chicken in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. You will need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- Move a rack to the top position of your oven and preheat the broiler. Place the chicken on a broiler-safe pan. Top with one slice of ham (I folded them to make them fit) and one slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.
- Cut each bakery bun in half and spread the bottom half with one tablespoon of honey mustard. Place a chicken breast onto each bottom then drizzle each with a tablespoon of honey mustard. Top with the remaining bun halves and serve immediately.
Prep time does not include time to soak the chicken in buttermilk. If you are in a huge hurry you can skip the soaking step, but it will slightly affect the flavor and texture of the chicken.