I am a nursing professor which keeps me plenty busy. This semester is the evening/weekend program so I have not been able to cook as much as I would hope to. Alas, one evening last week I said let me see if I can throw something together that can easily be cooked or heated up later. This casserole is what I came up with. I used a little help from the store and boy did that make this dish so unbelievably easy to prepare and let's just say, it tasted amazing. Here's the recipe and how I did it and don't forget to scroll down to see my tips:
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole:
12 ounces organic rotini pasta
1 organic rotisserie chicken
6 ounces of uncured ham, about 1/4 thick
6 tbsp organic, unsalted butter + 1 tbsp for the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish
1/2 small, organic yellow onion, minced
6 tbsp organic flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 cups organic milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup organic panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp organic flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp organic garlic powder
1 tbsp + 2 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp black pepper, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a big pot over high heat, bring about 6 cups water with 1 tbsp salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, just shy of al dente.
3. While the pasta cooks, pull the 2 breast pieces from the chicken and cut to about a 1/4 inch dice. Do the exact same thing with the ham.
4. Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside in colander.
5. Add the butter, diced ham, and the minced onion to the same pot and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the ham to release some water and start to brown.
6. Remove the ham pieces, leaving as much butter and liquid in the bottom and add the flow. Whisk until a paste is formed and stir for about 2 minutes until the flour is cooked down. Add the Dijon mustard and stir.
7. Going back to the whisk, slowly add the milk, whisking while you add to get out any lumps. What you are making here is a béchamel sauce, which is the basis for most macaroni and cheeses or cheese sauces.
8. Once the mixture starts to thicken, should take about 3-5 minutes, you can add the Swiss cheese, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp of pepper and stir until melted.
9. Add the chicken, ham, and pasta to the cheese sauce and stir until combined.
10. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and use your fingers to coat the dish. Add the cheese mixture.
11. In a small bowl, add the panko, parsley, garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Stir to combine and sprinkle over the top.
12. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. I put mine under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes to finish browning it off.
Tips: A rotisserie chicken is a working moms best friend. And my grocery store carries organic, free-range chickens which makes me super happy. The possibilities are endless with what you can do. I use it to make soups, I shred the meat for pulled bbque chicken or quesadillas, dice up the breast meat for my Cranberry-Pecan Chicken salad (recipe here), or cut off the pieces and serve with roasted potatoes and maple-glazed carrots or my garlicky green beans. Many possibilities are there, just to make things a little easier.
For the ham, because I am essentially looking for a ham steak, but uncured, I go to the deli counter and ask for a couple of pieces of uncured ham, cut about 1/4 thick to resemble a ham steak. It works out every single time and it makes me happy that I have this option.
As always, I use organic ingredients or uncured, whenever I possibly can. I realize this isn't an option for everyone so feel free to substitute for whatever you have at your disposal, just so long as you make this because it is delicious :-)