I’m addicted to peanuts. There, I said it. I love, love, love them especially the spicy ones or the honey roasted ones. I have to hide them from myself before they turn from a healthy snack with proper portioning to an extreme indulgence. On the plus side I have noticed though that if I eat 1/8 a cup of nuts (pistachios and peanuts being my favorite) I’m full and don’t get hungry again for awhile.
What does that have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem and I just wanted to share but let’s get to it.
Another thing I’m a big fan of: chicken cordon bleu, I mean how can you not like chicken, ham, and cheese all covered in a rich sauce but it’s a bit of a nutritional nightmare if you do it the traditional way. So I wanted to make a healthier version of the dish but not being content with just doing that, I also wanted it in a new way. Enter: calzones (I was also debating a pizza or pasta version but that’s a different story).
Chicken Cordon Bleu is, funnily enough, an American creation despite the name and a recent one at that (think 1960’s). If you wanted to trace the culinary history back it draws most heavily on Chicken Kiev (Ukraine) and Veal Cordon Bleu (Sweden). The term cordon bleu in French means “Blue Ribbon” and a breaded fried version is definitely blue ribbon tasty.
I like to think my calzone is also blue ribbon tasty but you can be the judge of that (although it’s doesn’t make a very pretty picture but eh).
- 1 lb pizza dough (either buy or make your own)
- ½ lb chicken breast, pounded thinly (quicker cooking time)
- ¼ cup diced ham
- ½ cup fontina, shredded (you want a really flavorful melty cheese and fontina is a personal favorite)
- 5 oz spinach (I tend to use baby spinach because it’s less prep work)
- 1 small onion or 2 shallots, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 – 8 oz sliced portabella mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp dry sherry
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- ½ Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp fat free milk
- 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or sub in nonfat greek yogurt – I didn’t try it that way but I bet that would be good. I rarely have heavy cream but I just happened to have it leftover from the halo halo popsicles)
- 2 – 3 teaspoons herbs de provance, divided (or a mix of thyme, rosemary, and sage would also be good)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of grapeseed oil
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Heat 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in pan over medium high heat. Pound chicken thinly and season both sides with herbs de provance and salt and pepper.
- Wilt spinach down in preheated pan (now would be a good time to add any little “extras” I used a bit of crushed red pepper on my spinach). Remove spinach from pan, setting it aside and allowing it to drain.
- Cook chicken about 2 minutes on each side or until done – the thinner the breast the quicker it cooks, set aside.
- Add ½ teaspoon of grapeseed oil to pan and cook diced onion for 3 – 4 minutes or until tender. Add in garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add in dry sherry and deglaze the pan.
- Place mushrooms, herbs de provance, salt and pepper in pan and cook for an additional 5 – 7 minutes or until soft (after they soften a bit I also use the spatula to cut any of the larger mushroom in half). While the mushrooms are cooking, combine chicken stock and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Once everything has cooked down and combined, pour in chicken stock/cornstarch slurry and stir, allowing it to coat all of the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and add in milk and cream, allowing all of it to combine. After about a minute or two of cooking you’ll now be left with a creamy mushroom sauce.
- Dice chicken into small cubes. Divide dough into 4 portions and roll out in thin circles, about 1/8 an inch thick. On each circle place a quarter of the chicken, 1 Tbsp ham, ¼ of the spinach mix, ¼ of the creamy mushroom sauce and yes you want liquid in there, there's nothing worse than a dry calzone (I had a little of the sauce left but we just ate it while we waited for the calzones to cook) and top it all with 2 Tbsp of shredded fontina (these are big calzones). Fold over filling and roll/fold the sides up and together in order to seal it.
- Place on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with oil spray. You can use a fork on the edges of the calzones to make a nice pattern and to further ensure it’s sealed. Also make sure to pierce the top of the calzone with the fork, two or three times, to allow steam to escape. For the tops of the calzone you can use butter spray, melted butter (more calories), oil (also more calories), or oil spray. I went the butter spray route.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly (these come out hot!) and enjoy.
Definite one dish meal, I couldn’t even finish my portion. I love things like this where meat, veggies, and grain are all combined into one and I don’t have to worry about making a separate side dish. If you’re missing the traditional calzone sauce, feel free to dip it in a side of warmed up marinara, I think it might add an interesting dimension.
I aldo didn’t originally intend for this to have spinach in it but couldn’t remember why I had even bought spinach or what dish I had intended to use it in so into the calzone it went (and a tasty addition it was).