Smoked Chicken Cordon Bleu from Dittmer’s Wurst Haus

I have several friends that have the name Paul. One drives to Oregon for bacon and one I’ve known since 2nd grade. Let’s call him Uncle Paul, mmm kay?
Uncle Paul has recently purchased a home near Dittmer’s Wurst Haus. 2 weeks ago the boys and I drove down and helped him move the large items, umph. We had a great time checking out the new digs and later in the day we did some cold beers with grilled tasty pork. No time for poor Dittmer.
“What to do !?! What to do !?” cried the engineer.

Biggles knew what to do, and he did it. With a phone call and a little conversation, he secured weekend trip #2. This time there was a few hours to fit a little trip to Dittmer’s.
While Richmond was dealing with a 67 degree sunny day, the peninsula was sportin’ a good 90 to 94 degree sun fest. Last time I was able to cross the bridge directly in to San Francisco, but not today. We continued down 880 and did the S&M Bridge. Which turned out to be a good thing because they’ve added a lane and it’s nearly always free and breezy. Even if the toll is a 3 dollar wack.
Uncle Paul greeted us with a half smile. He’d been on a 3 hour hike in this 90 degrees and was a little fuzzy around the edges. He rested and I fed the kids, we all piled back in the truck and headed out for Dittmer’s. I was so excited. I had my wallet, cooler and a firm image of where we were going.
Dittmer’s was just as I left it. A meat case that must be 50 to 60 feet long. The contents were more than neatly placed in rows, piled carefully and each location held something different. One end were house made luncheon meats and at least a hundred pounds of fine salumi products. This moves in to smoked turkey, house smoked/cured belly bacon and other smoked yummies. Many feet of fresh sausages ranging from frankfurters and weisswurst to things I still can’t pronounce. The colors and textures are smooth meat to course meat to whole meats. There was a small section of premade goodies such as marinated beef & pork and some cordon bleu rigs. This continues down in to a raw meat selection that ranges from milk fed veal to prime beef and some crazy looking good pork meat. From the staff to the customers you can hear German being spoken and smiles everywhere. The hair on the back of my arms and legs always stands at attention, I can hardly think. My eyes widen as I step over to the salumi, I haven’t tried these before. The guy helping me grabbed a few large sticks and began to slice off samples. OH YEAH BABY !!! Okay, 1 pound of that and 1/2 pound of that. German salami and a house blend. Just the right amount of fat delivers these bright flavors to all parts of your mouth. Pork & beef blends and the German speaks of crushed juniper berries. Clean finish with no nasties.
Paul bought a few things and I walked away with a few treats myself.
I know this sounds like crazy talk, but I wasn’t convinced I was having Dittmer’s for dinner. I’d had a tough breakfast and ordering a pizza sounded great for the kids. Personally I was more interested in sitting, drinking cold beer, sipping good scotch and talking with Paul. See, I’d devised a plan where we could dig up a 40′ pool in his new back yard, build Spanish galleons for each side and have wars. There was not only room for our galleon battles, but I figured he needed to raise some animals too. Something like chinchillas, tasty little critters. Nothing says love like good chinch meat. These are the things I enjoy. But after a quick glance at our booty, Dittmer’s on the grill it was to be.
When we got back, Paul mentioned he’d bought premade Chicken Cordon Bleu. It was 2 pounds and enough for 2, we figured. I looked at his kitchen, looked at the oven (really nice gas kitchen-aide rig) and then spied the mid-sized weber charcoal fired grill outside. A smoked cordon bleu? How bad could that be?
I know this may sound odd, but I’ve never made a chicken cordon bleu and can’t remember if I’ve ever had one. They’ve always seemed pedestrian to me. Maybe a choice on a badly catered menu for people with no taste buds. But maybe if you smoke it, it would be okay.
It was AWESOME. Certainly a little too much of the cheese ran out, so I put a foil bed in there and caught most of it. I used a plethora of hickory chips and as you can see, it’s a pretty golden color. We also cooked indirectly something called “French Wine” sausages. Creamy little pork loverlies. They were kinda interesting. Where many coarsely ground sausage is puffy and will sometimes break, these llittle rigs held themselves together as though they had meat glue in them, neat.

It was a grand day out.

20 thoughts on “Smoked Chicken Cordon Bleu from Dittmer’s Wurst Haus

  1. Hey Princess,
    Yeah, you and me both. I have 2 pounds of Dittmer’s bacon in the fridge. Need it rendered down for some corn bread. I can hardly wait.

  2. Hey Prag,
    I thought so too, after a while. I meant to give you a high-sign, for sure. But work has been too fricken busy lately and never got to it.
    Remember, it was your post about what’d you cook this last weekend that inspired me.

  3. The only chicken cordon bleu I ever had was those nasty battered frozen logs. That chicken is a work of art!

  4. Nice of you to say, but naaah, you were born inspired when it comes to cooking tasty meat-bits. We do need to do some more meat-storming on this, though.
    How ’bout this as a version of what we were talking about- bone out the bird, wrap the meat, cheese and ham as a roulade in caul fat to hold it together, then wrap that in the chicken skin? It might be a bit messy, Just thinking out loud. I do still like the idea of stuffing slices of ham and cheese under the skin, too.

  5. Hey Pragmatic,
    Naw, and on second thought I don’t think the caul fat is a good idea either. Unless the skin or caul fat get some caramelization, I would think they’d get mooshy and nasty. It would basically steam them and steamed fat don’t do anything for me.
    My thought was to keep the two breasts together, like Dittmer did. Sure it’s a large piece, but it would allow you to turn the beast upside down. This would keep the cheese from running out the bottom, at least. Then you could build things up on top. Such as a strip of ham and a sage leaf?
    Or wrap the entire upside down thing in caul fat so it was on the outside. This might make more sense because I’ve noticed the caul fat has a tendency to shrink and pull whatever it’s wrapping together.
    Take a look there. You can see the guinea hen breast raw was sloapy and kinda flat. But after cooking, it held a beautiful shape.

  6. I was hoping that most of the caul fat would melt away during the cooking, though. Uncrispy skin is a definite grill-pax, to coin a phrase. You’d have to wrap it so that the skin was only on the outside, which can be done. Still like the sage idea, but later I thought that fresh tarragon might work, too.
    Now I have to try it. I think I’ll try jamming it all under the skin of a whole bird first. That’s simpler than boning it out and making a roulade, anyway. Hmmm, chop it all up and melt it so you can pour/spread it under the skin? I’ll have to have a drink or two and give this careful thought.
    Okay, back to selling tasty food products…

  7. Hey P,
    I think most of the caul fat would melt away if it got hot enough. But I don’t think it would.
    Here’s what I noticed when smoking the cordon. I checked the best with my thermapen on a regular interval, sort of.
    The temp rose normally, like with a solid roast. I let it sit as such. But when I came back, I noticed the temp had shot up abnormally high in a short amount of time.
    Duh. The center is cheese and ham, already cooked. They just need to be warmed, it’s the chicken that needs to be cooked. So your cooking time isn’t linear and needs to be watched. Given this, I don’t think the caul fat would hardly melt at all.

  8. Biggles: Not as brilliant as the sight of me in my fox-fur jacket! That’s the kind of cross-species skin application that… um… (is it safe to talk like this here?).
    Kevin: Don’t inhale!

  9. Dittmers! Dude, you were less than 3 blocks from my house. You totally need to try the Nuremberg Bratwurst….

  10. Hey DM,
    WAY COOL, you’re darned lucky. I’ll put those on my list. I wanna git a whole ham next time too. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Their hams are fantastic. As are the landjeager. I’m actually in the process of moving to Ann Arbor, MI, so soon I shall have to leave both Dittmers and Fatted Calf behind *sob*. Fortunately there will at least be Zingermans.

  12. Hey DM,
    Oh yes, you’ll have to report back. If you feel the need take some pictures and do a write-up. I’ll post it here. Would LOVE to see other parts of the meat country.