I had a pound of lean (93/7) ground chicken (snagged on sale — woo hoo!) in my freezer that I needed to use. I was wanting to do something a bit different or creative with it, but couldn’t quite think of what. Then, it occurred to me — how’s about chicken cordon bleu individual meatloaves?
(My apologies, Mr. Loaf! 😉 )
Now, I’ve never eaten — or prepared — chicken cordon bleu, much less chicken cordon bleu meatloaf, but I’ve never let something like that stop me. 😉
As I also have some boneless, skinless chicken breast in my freezer, I debated, for a bit, on making a more traditional, yet lightened up, version of chicken cordon bleu as inspired by the fabulous Now Eat This! cookbook by Rocco Dispirito that a good friend gave me for Christmas, but in the end, I decided that I really needed to use the ground chicken, and so I would wing making a chicken cordon bleu individual meatloaves.
I decided to make individual meatloaves instead of a single large meatloaf because I wanted to coat the meatloaf in Panko crumbs to help replicate the crispy crust of traditional chicken cordon bleu. I think that, when I make this again, I may try shaping a large (1 pound) meatloaf and see if I can’t roll it in the Panko crumbs instead of the individual loaves. I could, of course, also make it in a meatloaf pan, and just sprinkle panko crumbs on the top.
I used very lean, deli-sliced luncheon ham (only 45 calories in 6 slices!) and thinly-sliced Swiss cheese (an entire slice is 3/4 of an ounce; I used a half slice in each meatloaf). If you cannot or do not want to eat ham, you could certainly substitute turkey ham. Because I wanted the chicken meatloaf to echo the flavors of just a chicken breast cutlet, I kept seasonings in the meatloaf mix minimal. Traditional chicken cordon bleu is usually served with a rich, cream-based sauce; I made a much lighter version using a package of chicken gravy mix and using part water and part 1% milk
Originally, I had planned on making 4 individual meatloaves, but even when I folded the sliced ham and Swiss cheese in on itself, I couldn’t get 1/4 pound of the meatloaf mixture to fully surround the ham and cheese, so I ended up making 3 (1/3 pound) meatloaves.
Despite my having to recalibrate methods and intentions as I went along (common enough when winging it!), hubby and I both agree that it smells — and tastes! — yummy! 😉
Chicken Cordon Bleu (Individual) Meatloaves (Serves 3 – 4)
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
- 1 slice of bread, torn into small pieces or whizzed up in a small food processor or blender (I used a sandwich slice of 7 grain bread) (may use cracker crumbs instead if you prefer)
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Wee dollop of steak sauce (recommend one similar to Heinz 57, but your favorite steak sauce will do)
- Coarse ground black pepper to taste
- 9 to 12 thinly sliced lean luncheon ham (you could also use turkey ham if you cannot or do not want to eat pork)
- 2 – 3 thin slices of Swiss cheese
- Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon margarine or butter (optional)
- 1 package (1 cup yield) chicken gravy mix (optional) and 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk (optional)
- In a medium-sized bowl, lightly beat egg. Add in soft bread crumbs (cracker crumbs will work, as well), Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, and coarse ground black pepper.
- For individual meat loaves, divide mixture into 3 equal portions. Flatten a portion into a thick patty. Place 3 thin ham slices, folded in half, and 1/2 thin Swiss cheese slice in the center of the patty; fold patty around the ham and cheese and shape into a small meatloaf. Roll each meatloaf in Panko crumbs and place on a plate until ready to bake.
- For one larger meatloaf, either shape loaf around 9 to 12 slices of ham and 2 -3 slices of Swiss cheese, roll in Panko crumbs, and place on a lightly buttered or oiled (or sprayed with cooking spray) rimmed baking sheet or pan. Or, place half of mixture in a lightly buttered, oil, or sprayed with cooking spray meatloaf pan (this mixture is so lean, you could use a loaf bread pan if you prefer), layer in 9 to 12 slices of ham and 2 – 3 slices of Swiss cheese, top with the remaining meatloaf mixture, and sprinkle top with Panko crumbs.
- To bake individual loaves: Place 1 tablespoon butter in a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan (I used an 8″X8″ glass pan), place in oven, and preheat to 350F. Once oven is preheated, place meatloaves in pan and bake until done, about 1 hour. NOTE: Using the butter is optional. I added the bit of butter just to add a hint of butter taste, as traditional chicken cordon bleu has quite a bit of butter. Preheating the pan in the oven as your oven preheats not only melts the butter, but also helps crisp the Panko crumbs when you put the meatloaves in the pan. You can leave the butter out, lightly spray or oil a cooking sheet/pan, place the meatloaves in the pan, put the pan in the cold oven, turn it on to 350F (no preheating necessary!), and bake them at 350F until done, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Optional: At or near the end of the baking period, you may want to lay 1 thin slice of ham and 1/4 to 1/2 slice of Swiss cheese on the top of each loaf; return to oven until cheese is melted.
- To bake a one-pound loaf: Place meatloaf in cold oven, turn it on to 350F (no preheating necessary!), and bake until done, about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Optional: At or near the end of the baking period, you may want to lay 3 thin slices of ham and 1 to 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese (in strips) on the top of the loaf; return to oven until cheese is melted.
- Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Optional: If you would like to serve a gravy/sauce with it, mix one package (1 cup yield) chicken gravy mix with half water and half milk (1% works just fine) as per package directions.