Friday, March 5, 2010
A while ago, Chris decided to take it upon himself to go out and buy some groceries! Now, I really don't have a problem with this except I normally plan out my menu for the week on Sundays. Included in that process is making out my grocery list with everything we need from meats to produce to canned goods to baking supplies. The problem is, however, when he goes, he tends to pick up random and unnecessary items like, for instance, a 3 pound Black Forest Ham! Now I don't completely blame him. Why? Because he's a man and they really don't know any better! But the problem remained that I didn't have ham on my weekly menu and it was a good sized ham. What do I do with that?! I'll tell you what I did. I froze the sucker until I could figure out what I wanted to use it for.
So every stinking time I opened up the freezer, I saw that ham staring me straight in the face. What do I do with ham other than bake it?! Easter is coming up and traditionally in my family, we have baked ham. So that was out. Plus, it's just kind of boring to me. I thought about Cuban Sandwiches (which I'm still thinking of since I have so much of it left over). I thought about Scalloped Potatoes & Ham but that just seemed blah to me. Then Chicken Cordon Bleu came to mind! I had the chicken and I had the ham, so all I needed were the other ingredients. BUT I really didn't want to fuss with pounding out chicken and rolling them with ham and cheese and then breading them and....well, you know the rest.
But I love the flavors of the dish, so I decided to put my own spin on it and make it with pasta because, well, pasta goes with everything. Doesn't it?! And it was much less of a hassle to make then the latter idea. So my wheels began to turn of how I was going to compose this dish. It started with a fun bow tie pasta (which I highly recommend for fun), chunks of ham and chicken and a creamy Swiss cheese sauce in between. To top it off, a nice crunchy Panko breading to give the effect of the breaded chicken. Now, I will tell you that I thought about actually breading the chicken and then mixing it in, but I didn't. The reason: I know that the chicken would get soggy sitting in that cheese sauce (especially for leftovers) and that just ruins the whole thing for me! Really this dish turned out to be very flavorful, very creamy and very much like Chicken Cordon Bleu!
Pasta Cordon Bleu
1 lb. Pasta (bow tie, cavatappi, orechiette, etc.)
1 cup Chicken Breasts, cooked and cubed
1 cup Ham, cooked and cubed
1 1/2 cups Milk
8 oz. Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
2 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1/2 cup Butter, melted
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat. Salt it and add the pasta; cook until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain and return to the pot. Add in the chicken and ham and toss to combine.
Preheat the broiler. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese and minced onion over low-medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes a smooth texture (about 5 minutes). Stir into the pasta mixture. Stir in the Swiss cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer pasta to a baking dish and top with Panko crumbs. Pour melted butter over crumbs and broil until browned (about 3 minutes).
Note: I parboiled my chicken for about 20 minutes to cook it and I used Black Forest Ham in this recipe; however any type of cooked ham would do.
Yield: 4-6 Servings
Source: With a Cherry on Top