Add An Earthy Finesse To Chicken Cordon Bleu With Sage Leaves

There are few things as savory as a chicken cordon bleu; breaded chicken, melty cheese, and salty ham come together for a rich, delectable entree. However, with so many savory ingredients, the dish can start to feel heavy flavor-wise. Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye balances this savoriness with sage leaves to give her classic chicken cordon bleu recipe an earthy taste.

"The secret ingredient in this is the fresh sage leaves that are hidden inside the chicken," Rye says. "Adding the earthy herbal flavor of sage really increases how fancy the dish tastes. It would be fine without it, but it really becomes special with the sage addition."

Sage leaves have an earthy, peppery, taste with notes of citrus and pine. While it is a little bitter raw, when cooked into dishes sage leaves bring a unique fresh flavor that works to balance the rest of the richness in the dish. Rye uses whole sage leaves, stuffed inside the chicken with the ham and cheese so you won't have to worry about the sage being overpowering. Sage can cut through some of the richer elements, like the cheese, to bring in an unexpected flavor note that makes the whole dish more interesting. 

How to add sage leaves to your next chicken cordon bleu

Rye stuffs her sage leaves in the chicken cordon bleu alongside her ham and cheese and all three of these ingredients get added at the same time. Fresh sage leaves when cooked have a similar texture to other cooked greens such as spinach or collard greens. You only need to use a couple of leaves to add in the earthy flavor.

However, if you don't have access to fresh sage leaves, you can opt to use dried leaves instead. You can sprinkle dried sage into the center of the cordon bleu as the recipe originally suggests or you could use it to season your breadcrumb mixture. When using dried sage keep in mind it will be a much more intense flavor compared to fresh sage. In general, it's recommended to use a third of the amount of dried herbs in place of the fresh herbs in the recipe. Since Rye's recipe uses a minimal amount of fresh sage anyway, you don't need much dried sage at all. Dried sage can be a good option if you're worried about the texture of cooked sage leaves in your cordon bleu.