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.
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
1-2 T Thyme or Italian seasoning
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.