Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the process, I was too busy trying to assemble and get it to the hungry people. There was much gobbling afterwards that I forgot to take some then.

This was inspired by finding an opened package of prosciutto in my freezer that was starting to burn.  Not wanting it to go to waste, I came up with this:

Simmer 2 chicken breasts in water with garlic (you can add carrots, but someone was complaining about all the carrots showing up, so I didn't use any or celery and onions) until cooked through then shred chicken. Reserve chicken broth for future recipes (see below about chicken broth).

Using a cast iron skillet to brown the prosciutto on medium low. Cook until browned. Remove from pan and reserve juices and bits in pan.

Make a medium bechamel sauce (white sauce in some cookbooks - thin, medium, heavy) in the iron skillet. Melt the butter, stir with a wire whisk to loosen up any bits of the prosciutto on the bottom of the pan. Stir in flour and lightly brown, stir in warmed milk. Stir until any lumps are gone. (If you've warmed your milk you shouldn't get lumps. I had forgotten that not warming the milk is what caused the flour and butter to seize up and cause lumps in gravies. So pop it into the microwave for a minute or two to take the cold off before using.)

I added in a couple tablespoons (okay, good sized squirts) of Dijon mustard to the sauce and turned off heat after stirring into sauce.

In a 9x11 or equivalent sized pan, spray with non-stick spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees. I spread half a bag of frozen shredded potatoes. Then spread out the shredded chicken and then crumbled the prosciutto on top and poured the dijon bechamel sauce on top of all. I think I'll mix the shredded potatoes and chicken in the sauce next time and then top with the meat.

I then used five slices of sliced Swiss Cheese (the pre-sliced sandwich type) and then added the panko breading on top. I had melted a couple of tablespoons of butter and mixed in with the breading along with salt and pepper so that it would brown while baking. (If you don't have any panko on hand, use plain bread crumbs. No plain bread crumbs? Makes some from a couple slices of bread. No bread? Stop and come back when you have some!)

I baked it for 30-40 minutes until the bottom was bubbling and the topping was golden brown.

Brandon thought the prosciutto was a bit salty and that ham slices would be better. I'd probably cheat and buy sliced sandwich ham or get sliced ham from the deli. If you have leftover ham from a meal that would also work. I also don't see why cooked bacon wouldn't work if that was your preference.

Overall this came out pretty well for something that I pulled together without a lot of thought. Some may not find the bechamel or shredded chicken parts easy. So you could use your favorite "Cream of ____" soup to get your sauce. I've found that shredding the chicken really makes the chicken go further than serving up cut up bite-sized breasts. I can make one or two breasts seem like there's more meat than the equivalent in breasts cut up. Try it sometime. Shred one breast and cut up another and do the comparison yourself.

I also like cooking the breasts in the water with added garlic/onions/carrots (I'd use celery but the boys don't like the flavor) and I can have the broth to be used either in the recipe I'm using or cooled and poured in jars and stored in the refrigerator. I don't have an issue with the jars going bad because we're eating chicken at least once or twice a week. The broth works in beef stew as well as cooking my rice.

I can't eat green/red (fill in the other colors here) peppers. I've learned to dislike their flavor because they repeat on me. So I don't get the O'brien Hashbrowns. I do like the shredded potatoes, but imagine you could use the little square cut ones just as well or shredd your own potatoes. I was being lazy and going with the pre-shredded.

Try out the recipe and let me know what you think!  I'll try to make another batch of it soon and get photos posted. Share your photos and any changes you made!

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