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Deconstruction

November 10, 2009

Cheddar1There has been a culinary trend over the past several years in your fancier, chic restaurants called “deconstruction.” For those unaware, what this means is that a chef will take a classic dish and break it down to its main components, rearrange those components in a new way so that the dish no longer looks like the original, but when each component is eaten together, the dish is “reconstructed” in the diner’s mouth. For a quick example I’ll use spaghetti and meatballs, illustrating that “deconstruction” need not be restricted to your high-end dining locales.
The main components are obviously pasta, ground beef, and tomato sauce. So maybe you make a meatloaf, slice it into strips, wrap the strips in lasagna noodles and fry them, and then dip them in tomato sauce. So it looks like some sort of wonton or mozzarella stick dish, but when eaten, it tastes like spaghetti and meatballs. Hmm, maybe I should try that!
So the other night I wasn’t sure what to make for dinner. I knew I had some thawed chicken, and then I noticed ham and Swiss cheese, so I thought of chicken cordon bleu. Normally that’s breaded chicken stuffed with ham and Swiss and then baked. But the only thing I felt like stuffing was my belly, so I decided to sort of deconstruct the dish into a chicken cordon bleu sandwich. Now I know some of you may have seen something like that on a Wendy’s or Arby’s menu, but those feature a fried chicken breast. My version omits the breading, letting a nice toasted sourdough add that crunchy texture and keeping the dish relatively healthy. Plus I added a tasty remoulade which gave the dish a deeper complexity. Sounds pretty fancy, right? Nope. But darn yummy. Enjoy!

Eric’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

(serves 2)

Sandwiches:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch strips
2 slices cooked ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices sourdough bread (rye, Italian bread or baguette will work too)

Remoulade:
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. brown mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. parsley
1 scallion, chopped fine

Heat grill on medium. Lightly oil chicken strips and season with salt and pepper. While grill heats, prepare remoulade. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Grill chicken over medium heat until done, turning once during cooking, about 2-3 minutes per side.
While chicken cooks, spread ¼ of the remoulade on each bread slice. For each sandwich, top one slice of bread with 1 slice of ham, the other with 1 slice of cheese. Put the slices in the toaster oven or under the broiler and cook until cheese melts.
Remove chicken from grill, place strips on one of the bread slices, top with the other slice. Eat!

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