Kohlrabi Cordon Bleu
A couple of years ago I got reacquainted with kohlrabi, something that I think we didn’t have at home much during my childhood. A friend at work used to have kohlrabi slices with her lunch sandwich, and I realised kohlrabi was something I never used in either cooking or in raw form. I asked my mother if she grew kohlrabi in her garden, and indeed she did. So I, too, got into the habit of having the occasional raw kohlrabi slices with my lunch sandwiches. I liked the unusual taste and crunchiness.
At some point my friend and I started bringing proper lunches to work that we could microwave, so over the past year the kohlrabi disappeared from my radar. Only when my mother handed over the first of this year’s batch a few weeks ago was I reminded of it again. As I still bring cooked lunches to work, I wasn’t sure what I’d be making from the kohlrabi, especially as the one I received was a really large one. So last weekend I decided to make kohlrabi cordon bleu.
Way back in the early 1990s, when vegetarianism slowly arrived in Germany, the cafeteria at my previous employer’s used to make celery schnitzel (from bulb celery, not sticks). This was basically thick celery slices covered in breadcrumbs and pan-fried. And that’s where I got the idea for kohlrabi cordon bleu. The setup was a thick slice of kohlrabi – slice of ham – slice of cheese – slice of ham – slice of kohlrabi. As with a normal schnitzel, I dipped this combo in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs; to the latter I added some shredded cheese.
The handling of this three-step process was a little more tricky than with a meat cordon bleu, because I had to carefully hold it together while dipping it in the flour/egg/breadcrumbs, otherwise it would have fallen apart. The ingredients here are more of a stack than with a meat cordon bleu, so they tended to slip apart. However, with a bit of patience, it was quite easy to do.
Also, I pan-fried the kohlrabi slices – of which there were six – in butter to soften them a little before making them into cordon bleus. I was considering putting them in the oven, but I already had my side dish – sweet potato fries – in there. I think I’ll give that a go next time, though, it might be a better softening process than in the pan.
The result was very gratifying, the kohlrabi slices were slightly softened by the pan-frying beforehand but still retained some crunch. They shouldn’t get too soft and mushy, but also not too hard to cut. For the filling I used some thin ham and Edam cheese. I had a little of the Edam left over, which is why I decided to grate it into the breadcrumbs. The ratio was about 2 parts breadcrumbs to 1 part cheese.
Even though I prefer most dishes as a meat version, I would definitely make this again. It’s different but good different. Now I’ll have to come up with more kohlrabi ideas as the garden seems to be gifting us with a very generous amount this year.
Kohlrabi Cordon Bleu
1 large kohlrabi
butter for frying
thinly sliced ham
sliced cheese [I used Edam]
Peel the kohlrabi and cut into 6 thick slices. Sprinkle with salt, then pan-fry in butter until slightly softened, or brush with oil and oven-roast for about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your flour, eggs and breadcrumbs for dipping.
Remove kohlrabi slices from pan or oven, then layer: kohlrabi slice – ham – cheese – ham – kohlrabi. When all three cordon bleus are stacked, dip in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, then pan-fry in a generous amount of butter until nicely browned and the cheese starts to run out the sides.