When I was a child, my favorite food was chicken cordon bleu. In my opinion, there was nothing to dislike. Someone, somewhere in Switzerland had come up with a sinfully perfect combination of fried chicken with a salty ham and molten cheese center. Every once in a while my mother would indulge my craving for my favorite food by going to Costco and buying the frozen version for Sunday dinner. To this day, I am still haunted by the difficulty it took to properly cook those frozen chicken cordon bleus. If you baked it too long, all the cheese would leak out. If baked not enough, the chicken would be raw. You couldn’t fry them as they were too big to put in any pot or pan we owned. Surely, there had to be a way to resolving this issue. There had to be an idiot proof recipe out there for me that resulted in the perfect bite.
It was with a lot of deep contemplation and self reflection that I came upon the solution: balls. Now, I know what you are thinking right now, ‘Is everything ball related to you?’ To which I say, ‘Only if it is food related’. Yeah, I’m food ball obsessed. Gimme a big ol’ plate of balls and I’m happy. Meatballs, veggie balls, cheeseballs, dessert balls, you name it-I want it! It’s the perfect shape for appetizers and general party food in general. Plus, it works for this dish as it seals in the cheese, can be cooked quickly and easy to pop in your mouth. AND when it comes to these bleu balls, I can easily gobble them up!
400g ground chicken
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp plain italian breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp sea salt
sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 large slices of ham (cut into 2cm/1inch squares)
100-120g l’emmental (swiss) cheese cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup flour
1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, fresh thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, 1 egg and breadcrumbs until thoroughly combined. Using a spoon, separate chicken into meatballs roughly 2cm/1inch in diameter.
Using your fingertips flatten the balls as much as you can. In the center, add a piece of ham with a cheese cube on top. Gently lift up the edges of the chicken so that it is cupping the ham and cheese inside, forming a bowl. Transfer the ‘bowl’ to your hand and carefully fold over the edges together and round it out to form a sealed meatball. Repeat.
After you finish forming all the sealed meatballs, roll each ball first in flour, then in beaten egg, and lastly in panko breadcrumbs.
Bake in oven, center rack at 200C for 25-30min or fry in oil for 5-10 minutes until the coating is golden brown and crispy and the cheese inside is melted (which you might see if there is a break in the crust).
Serve warm with dijon mustard or marinara sauce for dipping.