Kate's blog, Cooking During Stolen Moments has become one of my favorite blogs for finding new recipes for my family of picky eaters to try. The majority of her recipes are family friendly and I find that I keep most of the ingredients on hand in my pantry and freezer.
One of her more recent recipes, Deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu(this link will take you to the original recipe), I decided to try with my family instead of buying a package of ready made cordon bleu at the store. However, after reading the recipe I didn't want to go to the store to buy some of the ingredients that I didn't have on hand just special for making the recipe, so I decided to modify the recipe and use what I had in my pantry that was a workable substitute that shouldn't change the taste too much.
Here is my version of Kate's Deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu...
Start with getting your chicken and ham into a baking dish...
2-3 lbs boneless/skinless fresh chicken tenders
4-6 slices of ham (I use some of the thin sliced ham that I had put in the freezer around Christmas)
Put the chicken in a skillet and brown/cook it for about 3 minutes(about 90 seconds on each side), basically long enough so that you are not using "raw" chicken. Pepper the chicken on each side before placing the chicken in a 9x13 baking dish. Top the chicken with pieces of ham. I cut each of my pieces into 4 or 5 strips and used 1 or 2 strips on each piece of chicken.
Now for the cheese sauce portion of the dish...
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2-3/4 tsp. onion powder
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
In a small sauce pan, melt 4 T. butter or margarine over medium heat. While the butter or margarine is melting, mix together the flour and seasonings. Once the butter or margarine is melted, stir in the seasoned flour and make sure that flour is totally moisten by the melted margarine or butter(it should be a thick paste). Slowly whisk or stir in milk. Bring to a slow boil and let slowly boil until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese until melted.
Pour cheese sauce over the chicken and ham in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top of the cheese sauce.
Top with 3/4 cup to 1 cup crushed croutons. I used garlic & cheese flavored croutons. Kate's recipe calls for topping it with bread crumbs that are mixed with 1 tbsp. melted butter or margarine. So using croutons there is no need to worry about mixing them with melted butter or margarine.
I served the dish alongside mashed potatoes, green peas and biscuits.
Review: 4 out of 7 family members gave it a thumbs up! It tasted great! This recipe was definitely easier to prepare than when I made chicken cordon bleu before. Hubby with his distinct tastes wants me to try it again but use swiss cheese because he really didn't like how the cheese sauce tasted with the mozzerella cheese. My most picky eater inhaled it and was interested in more but decided to have a biscuit instead. :) This is the picky eater who doesn't like to try new things and when he does after one bite decides he is going to sit at the table for over an hour "chewing" his food for the longest time and hopes that mom & dad will just give up and let him be done. As for the 3 that didn't like it, they did eat it and said that they would eat it again but told me not to fix it every month.
Also with the recipe calling for ham and cheese, I did not add any additional salt to the chicken or to the cheese sauce.
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