Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Which came first?

 … And I don’t mean the chicken or the egg. I’m talking about the ‘Cordon Bleu’, a traditional veal recipe and also a way to describe an excellent and refined cook. According to Wikipedia, it could be both. If the dish came first, the name comes from the blue ribbons the ‘inventor’ used to hold the meat together. A bit unlikely, because I suspect a blue ribbon would leave unappetizing blue marks on the cooked meat. Another possibility is that it was invented by a student of the 19th century ‘Cordon Bleu’ cooking academy.

Whatever the origin, it is one of my mother’s favourite dishes. So I decided to make a Cordon Bleu for Sunday lunch. Although you can get them ready-to-bake at our local supermarket, I prefer to make them myself. In the supermarket version the main ingredient of the Cordon Bleu, a lean veal scallop, is often replaced by fat and stringy pork scallops, in order to keep the price down. The coating of breadcrumbs is perfect to disguise the inferior quality of the meat.

So, here’s my version of the famous ‘Cordon Bleu’:

Ingredients, serves two:


  • 2 lean and thinly sliced veal scallops
  • 2 slices of cured Italian Ham
  • 2 hands’ full of grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 50 gr. of butter
  • 6-8 wooden toothpicks

Put a slice of cured ham on each slice of veal and cover it partly with a handful of grated cheese. Fold or roll the veal slices into a tight package. Seal the edges using three or four toothpicks.






Roll the packages in the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and bake the Cordon Bleu on a low heat. Don’t let the breadcrumb coating get too dark. Three to four minutes on each side should do it. Serve with boiled potatoes and green peas, sautéed in butter to which you have added a chopped onion, pepper, salt, thyme and a dash of sugar. Bon appétit!

7 comments:

Nadege said...

Your mother is so right to love this dish. Perfect meal for a sunday lunch. Bon appetit! (it is 1.24 pm your time).

chm said...

It sounds delicious and seems somewhat easy to make. I think chicken or turkey could be substituted for veal since the latter is so expensive in the U.S. when available.

Bob said...

Looks easy enought. We'll give a try. You didn't show the finished product!?,

chm said...

Before the Revolution, the highest French decoration was the Order of the Holy Ghost created by Henri III. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:
"The insignia consisted of a collar of alternating crowned Hs, trophies, and flaming heraldic flints, from which hung a Maltese cross azure lined argent, on which a dove descending from Heaven argent was shown. Fleurs-de-lys appear between the arms of the crosses, and pearls are placed on the tips of the cross. The sash was blue (hence the expression "cordon bleu" to mean something of first class)."

Napoléon replaced this order with the Légion d'Honneur. So I think nowadays you could say that a first class somebody or something is a "cordon rouge".

Louise said...

Thank you for this Martine, I haven't made this old favourite for some years but it is now on this week's menu!

Jean said...

Delicious!
And it looks easy enough for us to try. Veal is not easy to come by in our part of the UK but one local supermarket has it occasionally. I shall keep my eyes open for some!

ladybird said...

Nadege, We enjoyed last week's Sunday lunch. It was a real treat :) My other still has a healthy appetite and loves these 'traditionals'.

Chm, I knew you would come up with an explanation. Now I know where the Mumm's Cordon Rouge Champagne gets its noble name from!

Bob, Sorry, but when I'm cooking at my mother's (the finishing touches) I don't take my camera with me. But I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Jut try it, and you will see.

Louise, You're welcome! Can you get veal in Australia? I know that in some countries it is so 'not done' to eat veal ... or horse meat.

Jean, As chm pointed out, you can use turkey or chicken ... or even some lean pork. But nothing beats veal, of course.