Chicken Cordon Yule

Picture Credit G.McAlister

We made traditional cordon bleu with a mustard béarnaise sauce. Lately we tie the breasts because of our lazy knife skills. And it was amazing as usual – Stuffing with ham and double coating the tied breasts and browning all sides in an inch of sunflower oil.

After dinner we joked abut make one big similarly breaded chicken breast roll up with ham and cheese in the center. Somehow this oddity made it onto a weekly menu and the other night we made it.

But hark! Making bread crumbs is not a big deal.

It was obvious right away that this weird dish had the potential to be amazing. As odd as the idea of arranging 5 butterflied breasts and rolling the, into a 24 inch long deep fried log was, we began to realize that it was guaranteed to be delicious. So we really applied ourselves to bring it to fruition. We welcome you to comment on your own attempts to recreate the Chicken Cordon Yule. And maybe we can publish some pictures if you are not too shy.

A note about the name. We have kids and grandkids living with us. All of us are fortunate that this is possible. It causes us renewed wonder at the richness of mundane things because we are there with our 7 and 4 year old discovering life, specifically in this case, the holidays. When we began assembling the parts conversation reflected our excitement at documenting the process. Just a little earlier that day my daughter was explaining yule logs and we were texting about making one. We tried several names while cooking; decided on none of them. When she sent me the pictures (there were 84!) the folder they were in was named Chicken Cordon Yule.

Kitchen Manager keeps watch.

I think you can see why from the pictures.

Chicken Cordon Yule

Feeds 7 for more than one meal


5 organically grown (probably Cornish cross monster chickens by the size of these breasts. We got ours at Costco – they sell them in large enough packs to increase the size of this experiment.)

 4 cups of breadcrumbs (Did I ever tell you that I live in rural America? Walmart is the only real – and I use the term loosely – grocery store within 50 miles. They sell an amazing array of organically grown goodies. But realizing that we did not have enough and searching the aisles, there was no organic premade breadcrumbs. Most urban folk – we lived in Nashville, TN and Portland, OR proper. I know what availability should be. Believe me, it ain’t that here. But hark! Making bread crumbs is not a big deal. Even if you don’t collect bread ends like we do, you can get a loaf of suitable organically grown bread from Walmart and lightly toast them in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes and toss them into a food processor or a blender.

 A couple eggs, whipped (You can use whites. This is just a medium to stick the coating to the roll before you fry it. Once browned, the coating will form a shell that keeps the moisture in. Add a tablespoon of water to the eggs.

 A cup of organic white unbleached flour. (Walmart did have this – running out of ingredients should be embraced. No matter how much energy you put towards pre assembling you ingredients you will always forget something. No sense in letting it ruin the fun.)

 Approximately two ounces of Gruyere cheese, sliced into 1” wide 1/8” thick strips.

An equal amount of ham sliced the same.

Two or three cups of sunflower oil[1] (It is not organic but it is not yet available as a GMO. We avoid other oils, like peanut or soy, which may add a specific, what some might consider a better taste to the frying for allergies. I believe canola is toxic. But that is a rant for another day.)

A ball of cotton kitchen twine


Two cups milk at room temperature

Two tablespoons flour

Two tablespoons butter

One tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Assembly and cooking

Dry and butterfly 5 chicken breasts removing the tenderloins for another meal.

Ready to Roll!

Arrange so they overlap. NOTE: it is helpful to have your kitchen twine cut to adequate length and laid out as in the picture.

Arrange ham and cheese so that when it is rolled up the chicken will cover it.

Roll the chicken and ham into a log, being sure to tie each string tightly. You may need more strings. We did. Count the total number of toes BEFORE breading. Trust me, you will want to know.









After the roll is tied, pour the egg and water mixture over and use your hands to coat the entire roll.






Cover the egged roll in flour. And re-coat the floured roll in egg. Cover the roll with breadcrumbs.
























Heat the oil in a large fry pan – NOTE: we realized that a roasting pan would have been a better choice. Our roll did not fit in the pan and we lost a bit of the breading from one end.

Transfer to a rack.

Bake in the pre-heated oven until the inside temps to 140 degrees – 45 min. Make the sauce. Remove and let rest on a cutting board. Chicken should be moist but done all the way through.















The sauce is a standard béarnaise sauce with Dijon mustard added.

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan on low. Wisk in the four and stir until cooked through 3 min. stirring constantly. Add the milk a little at a time still stirring. After all the milk is added stir on low until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the mustard and stir to combine. Transfer to a gravy boat and leave on the warming shelf until served.








NOTE: In order to be sure the log stayed intact, we used two skewer sticks inserted at the top and bottom to add some rigidity. After the log has rested for a few minutes, cut at the center and remove the skewers (we had to use a pliers.) Using kitchen shears carefully snip and remove each of the ties. (We used suture scissors.) This is where knowing how many ties you used is a big help.




Slice into rondels and serve over orzo or pastina with a generous helping of sauce.





Sorry the color of the sauce is unappetizing. We made ours with sorghum flour so Karen, who has a wheat allergy, could enjoy this. It colors sauces poorly.












[1] A note about GMOs – the jury may be out about whether genetically modified organisms are good or bad. I choose to avoid them for my own reasons. But using any food that has been bathed in poisons like glyphosate, wheat and corn especially is dangerous. It is your business what you eat. But I anti-promote poisons like glyphosate whenever possible. I am affected by them in the foods I eat. Leave your name in the comments to discuss what I have learned to do to avoid the pain and debilitation they caused me.

He never even got to lick the bowl.

What Service Does Your Dog Provide?

By Karen Walasek

Finn has “officially” been my medical assist service dog since May in 2011. In broad terms what that means is he helped me with my physical health concerns in ways that no human can. His relatives have been known to smell diabetes and cancer. They can be trained to respond in ways that save the lives of people in their care. They provide the blind with mobility. But for me, the most amazing feat was Finn’s undying focus (on me and others in need) and his drive to respond as he saw fit. As my relationship with Finn grew he took on responsibilities beyond the narrowly defined physical aspects of my personal well-being. Long before his death he became a ritual maker, time keeper, and guardian of balance extraordinaire, tuning into the needs of those within his chosen sphere of influence in ways that eventually taught me to mostly just sit back and watch. I say mostly, because Finn had a way of pushing the limits that caused me to question my own unexamined mistaken loyalties to the propriety of sacrilegiously protected social constructs. All that barking at the Bread and Puppet theater threw me for a loop, I never saw him do anything like it, but Finn knew disruption when he saw it and the need to seek balance.

Finn didn’t care if you were a professor lecturing a class after running a marathon who needed a lick on the leg because your muscles were threatening to cramp, or a student teacher who needed to be reminded to take your meds. He didn’t care if I knew why he had decided to jump up from beneath my seat, bark and paw at a student until the student responded. His sense of purpose was unshakeable. Afterwards he would sit with what I came to know as his official stance, head tilted up slightly, sitting proudly with a look on his face that could only be seen as satisfaction with a job well done. To be sure, I would be embarrassed often, trying to honor the special privileges a service dog owner is supposed to respect, but when human after human would confide in me what service Finn provided for them I learned to accept that Finn chose his service in ways that were beyond my ability to comprehend and I learned to let him take the lead.

When I was a graduate student at Portland State College classes which were held in circles with all the chairs pushed back leaving the center open, became an invitation for Finn to begin and end our gathering with a ritual roll on his back. It became such a known ceremony that students would ask him if there was a problem if he refrained.  Class just couldn’t begin unless Finn did his roll, and it wasn’t over until he said so. Before long people began thanking me for bringing Finn and the best part of sharing my life with him became listening to these stories. I would be pointed at on the escalator of a mall by a teenager yelling proudly, “I know that dog!” Finn as service dog to the world was a teachable moment for children to learn about service dogs and to learn they should always ask first before you reach to touch a dog. They also learned that animals should have their sovereignty respected when I would ask Finn if he wanted to say “hello”, and sometimes he would turn his head away in an obvious “no”. He was the ambassador for veterans with PTSD who would randomly walk up to us in a book store to ask about getting their own service dog. Struggling high school students needing individualized learning plans, elderly couples who recently lost their dog, travelers nervous about flying, unruly teenagers who needed to be told rough housing is for outdoors only, I have lost count of those he touched.

All the while Finn never lost track of me. He filled the cracks and crevices of my life with love and devotion, tucked under my desk, the dinner table, a restaurant booth, at my feet during a cross country flight, I was never alone. He was always there, watching out for me. What this did for me was allowed me to become healthy. Finn willed me to get better. I went from being someone who could barely get in and out of a car to someone who does farm chores. I went from someone who felt defeated by my health to someone who knew no fear to find the next step whenever I reached a plateau. Wherever I went, whatever I needed to do, I could regain my sense of courage and feel safe.

These things will always be with me, even as I am constantly met with the places where Finn is no longer there. No need to ask if my buddy-buddy needs to go out, no need to make sure the water bowl in the bathroom is filled in case he wants to get a drink in the middle of the night. It’s the mundane empty places that hit me unaware and I uncontrollably grieve his loss. I expect that. Finn taught me that, who cares what rules might claim different. Needs must be met; all rules be damned. How could I not? On his last day I only left him once to go to the barn to milk the cow. He had been on the back porch so that he could take in the fresh air of his farm. Though he could barely stand, when I returned he had managed to make it to the edge of the gate closest to the barn so he could keep an eye out for my return. In his last hours he wanted me close, never to lose physical contact so that I sat in my chair with my foot pressed against his side never to allow for a break in touch. I read to him, Welcoming Spirit Home: Ancient African Teachings to Celebrate Children and Community by Sobonfu Somé. Somé told tales of the specialness of each child being born in this world, each with a special gift to share, it made the most sense to read. When it was time to put the book down, and I placed my hand on his head, Finn was ready to let go. Like it or not here I was once again, following his lead. What service does your dog provide?  Hell, I don’t have a clue; I don’t think I will be ever to fully answer that question. Ask Finn, I am sure he knows better than me. Don’t worry; I talk to him all the time. He doesn’t mind. And when you are done listening to what he has to tell you with his presence, he will get that look on his face, head tilted just so, all-knowing, with the satisfaction of a job well done. Finn will always be service dog to the world and beyond.

Finn 1/7/04 – 9/25/18