Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

This recipe is a great example of what happens when your best laid plans don’t quite work out in the kitchen. My sister Nicole, brother-in-law Jon and friend Amanda came over, and I was planning on making a lemon chicken cordon bleu with … I honestly can’t remember what the original side was now. In any case, I decided to change it to mac and cheese based on what was in the fridge (and I want to say I was missing an ingredient for the original side.) But I was trying to quickly defrost a whole heap of chicken breasts (I normally only freeze two at a time) and they did not defrost the way I hoped they would – aka, I didn’t think I’d be able to butterfly them open to stuff the provolone and ham in them. So, change #3 – combine the chicken and the mac and cheese of course! And so, chicken cordon bleu mac and cheese was born. I’ll tell you exactly what I used here (because it’s what I had on hand) but I’ll also recommend substitutions. This fed – well, technically there were 5 of us, but my brother-in-law should really count for three people with the amount of food he can eat – and made probably 4-5 lunch servings of leftovers. I served with a nice salad and a new cocktail (which I will save for another post.) It’s a great, hearty meal to beat the cold – and the cocktails.

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts, cubed into bite-sized pieces (ok, really, you could use 3-4 and be FINE – I was talked into using all of what I had by the boys.)

1 T EVOO

1 onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced (again, I am obsessed.)

1 lb ham (whatever kind you can find – mine was lunch meat), diced (you could get away with about 1/2 pound here – I used 1/2 in the sauce and 1/2 as a topper)

3 T butter

3 T flour

2 cups milk (whatever you have)

1 8oz brick cream cheese

8 oz provolone, shredded

8 oz colby jack, shredded (Could switch to swiss for a traditional feel)

1 lb short cut pasta

Salt and pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1-2 T Thyme or Italian seasoning

Directions:

Put a pot of water on to boil – once boiling, cook pasta until it still has a bit of bite. Drain. In the meantime…

Over medium high heat, season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a skillet. Cook almost through, then transfer to a plate.

Add butter and melt, then add ham and onion. Saute about 5 min, until the onion is soft and the ham starts to get some color.

Add garlic, saute 1-2 minutes, until you can smell the garlic.

Add in flour and mix together – let flour cook about 1 minute or so.

Whisk in milk, let come to a bubble and thicken. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Add cheeses and mix until melted.

Add in pasta and chicken and cook for about 5 more minutes, until chicken and pasta are cooked through.

At this point, you could make a breadcrumb topping and bake, or you could serve with ham for a topper. Guess which is easier? 😉

Eat. A lot. And drink. A lot. Trust me, this meal will let you handle it.

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