Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of those old-school recipes that is a real pain to make. There is nothing worse then trying to stuff ham and cheese into an uncooperative piece of chicken. Actually, scratch that. There is nothing worse than spending copious amounts of time meticulously stuffing your chicken only to have the filling run out all over the pan and burn. A true occasion for tears.
This is precisely why I make Chicken Cordon Bleu in casserole form. Now, I normally am not a huge casserole fan because most casserole recipes involve throwing together a lot of canned or pre-made ingredients and the end result is normally watery and bland. The only casserole that I could probably eat continuously is the iconic tuna casserole with canned cream of mushroom soup, tuna, mayonnaise and lots of cheese. I even tried making a fancy version of tuna casserole that nixed all the canned ingredients in favor of a bechamel sauce but it just did not hit the spot. However, with the exception of tuna casserole, all other casseroles normally leave me underwhelmed.
However, this Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole is prepared with all fresh ingredients to become a dish that is truly crave-worthy. It is probably one of Paul's favorite meals (at least I'm pretty sure it is in his Top 10). Layers of potatoes, chicken, and ham is tossed in a creamy swiss cheese sauce and then topped with fresh breadcrumbs. The entire concoction is then baked until all the flavors have melded together into a bubbly, comforting dish with all the flavors of chicken cordon bleu but NONE of the painful prep work. Paul has claimed that this is even better than the classically prepared chicken cordon bleu. Score! No more stuffing chicken.
Give this recipe a try and it might just become your new favorite casserole recipe! This is also a great take-in meal.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
from Cover and Bake
For the Topping:
4 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into quarters (Pepperidge Farm works great)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Filling:
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4-5 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream or milk
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded, about 2 cups (we love Jarslberg!)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and sliced thinly
9 ounces deli ham, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional - we almost never add this)
For the topping, process the bread and butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside.
For the filling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, making sure the oven rack is in the middle. Place the potatoes, 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are partially cooked, about 2 minutes (don’t overcook because they will continue to cook in the oven!). Carefully drain potatoes, or remove them with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute (this helps cook out the flour taste in the roux). Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and the cream or milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking often, until slightly thickened (if using milk instead of cream, you may have to cook longer for it to thicken up a bit). Off the heat, whisk in the Swiss cheese, Dijon, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
Toss the potatoes with half of the sauce and spread into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13-inch glass baking pan. Layer alternating pieces of the chicken and ham over the potatoes, overlapping as needed. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the chicken and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the casserole is bubbling, about 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley if desired and cool for 10 minutes before serving.