Cordon bleu can be made with chicken, pork, veal and almost any cut of meat but it is most often made using chicken and that is what we will use in this recipe today.
Doing this recipe in the smoker means that you simply leave off the bread crumbs and use some rub instead. I also took the liberty to wrap the whole thing in bacon so as to maintain a lot of moisture and to keep the outside of the chicken breasts from drying out during it's time in the heat.
When you cut into this smoky succulent piece of goodness and see the melted swiss cheese oozing out around the folds of ham, you will experience for yourself why I love this so much.
Now in order to make chicken cordon bleu, you have a couple of options. You can simply butterfly the chicken breasts and lay them open or you can pound them out until they are about 1/4 inch thick all over.
I chose to pound them out and to do that you simply place one of the chicken breasts inside of a ziploc bag.
Use a meat mallet to lightly pound the meat starting in the center and working toward the outside until it is the right thickness.
Once it is about 1/4 inch thick all over, take the chicken breast out of the bag and lay it on a cutting board for stuffing.
In smoked chicken cordon bleu, it's all about the prosciutto or the ham and the swiss. I chose to use ham on these.
I used the thin sliced deli ham and doubled up on the slices.
I use a single piece of swiss cheese right on top of the ham. If you are a cheese fanatic and want to have more gooey goodness oozing out of the ends at the finish, perhaps put swiss on the bottom, then the ham then another piece of swiss. Your call.
Roll the ham up like a pinwheel. You will probably have a wide end and a more narrow end on the chicken breast pieces. It seems to work better if you start rolling on the wide end and finish with the narrow end.
Lay 2 pieces of bacon parallel and about 1 inch apart. Place the rolled chicken breast across the strips of bacon at about the 1/3 mark or about 3 inches from one of the ends.
Pull the short ends up over the rolled chicken breast.
Roll the stuffed chicken breast across the bacon for about 4 more inches. Once you get about 3-4 inches from the end, pull the pieces toward the center and up over the chicken.
Overlap the ends in the center and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle a little more of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) onto the outside of the bacon for good measure (you can't get too much of this stuff).
I made these the night before I planned to cook them and placed them in a covered bowl in the fridge when I was finished stuffing and wrapping all of them.
Get the Smoker Ready
Prepare the smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F. These can be smoked in any type of smoker as long as you follow the recommended temperatures and make sure to not overcook the meat. If your smoker and uses a water pan, fill it up.
Smoking the Chicken Cordon Bleu
Note: Due to the fact that these are wrapped in bacon, they can handle a lot of smoke and I recommend keeping the smoke going for the entire time if possible.
Place the meat on the grate leaving about 3/4 inch between them to allow the smoke to have full access to them.
Maintain about 225-240°F throughout and keep the smoke going. I recommend using a good bold smoke like hickory, pecan or mesquite but any smoking wood will work well.
These should take 2.5 to 3 hours but keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the chicken using a digital probe meat thermometer and pull them off when they reach 165°F. It is ok to pull them a degree or two shy of this if you are worried about overcooking them since they will continue to cook internally for a few minutes.
I don't worry about making the bacon really crispy, but if that is a requirement for you, you can pull them from the smoker when they reach about 145°F and place them on a hot grill to finish or under the broiler for a few minutes. If you do this, continue to monitor the internal temperature and make sure they reach 165°F before calling them done.
About Using a Meat Thermometer
Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer when making the smoked chicken cordon bleu or any recipe that requires the meat reach a safe temperature. I used the “Smoke” by Thermoworks which is a dual probe remote thermometer with the sending unit at the smoker and the receiver in my pocket or around my neck. This way, I can go about what I need to do and I always know the temperature of my smoker and the meat.
Serving the Smoked Chicken Cordon Bleu
I recommend serving these immediately when they are finished cooking since you want the cheese to still be melty when folks cut into it. Serve with a nice side like steamed asparagus (recipe below).
Steamed Asparagus Recipe
Note: Use the thinnest asparagus stalks you can find–they'll be more tender.
Rinse asparagus in cold water and trim 1-2 inches from the stalk ends.
Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a stockpot.
Place asparagus in the pot and cover.
Reduce heat to medium and cook (covered) for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain immediately.
Drizzle with olive oil or butter.
Season with kosher salt and coarse pepper to taste.
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