I have mentioned before that I have a fascination with chicken cordon bleu. It’s a dish I can never get tired of but don’t always have the patience to make it from scratch myself. So that’s why I do simpler versions like my Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs, and this next casserole is an even simpler version of it, and it takes no time at all and very little effort.
Like most of my casserole recipes, this one is also not the best to make if you are trying to watch your waistline. But when you want a creamy dreamy decadent casserole, not many of them are.
This particular casserole I made the other night is a smaller quantity recipe than I normally make. I like to typically make a large lasagne sized dish of this sort of thing and freeze it in pre-portioned packages for easy meals on another night, but this is one that doesn’t freeze as well because of the sauce, cheese and bread. It can be soggy later. It just doesn’t thaw or taste as good after it’s been frozen. Leftovers in the fridge? Yes! So since we are only three of us at home, certain dishes just need a smaller ingredient list. I would say this would be perfect for 4 – 6 people with a side dish.
2 cups cubed bread pieces
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup grated swiss cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup plain panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons dry white cooking wine
Salt & pepper to taste
Chop up bread cubes and allow them to dry out on counter through the day, or the night before. Cook and cut chicken, ham, and grate both cheeses. Butter a 9×9 glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On your stovetop in a pot, heat the butter until melted and sprinkle on the flour. Whisk quickly to make a paste. Pour in the milk and whisk until totally incorporated. Add the chicken broth and wine, salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Once the mixture is totally combined and thickened, turn off the heat. Add ½ a cup of the mixed cheeses and stir to combine.
Layer the ingredients in the buttered baking dish. First half of the bread cubes, then a layer of half of the ham and chicken and ½ cup of the mixed cheese. Then the remainder of the bread, ham and chicken. Pour the creamy mixture evenly over the entire baking dish to cover the entire casserole. Finish off with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and the panko bread crumbs.
Bake in the 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until it is golden and bubbly.
Here’s how it turns out:
I usually know what I’m making for dinner the day before, or at least the same morning. The one ingredient you may want to think ahead about is the cubed bread. I make all of my bread, and artisan bread in particular only lasts and stays fresh for about 2-3 days on the counter. By day 3 or 4 I typically cube it up and freeze it in a storage bag and then I always have these cubes ready to go for casseroles or stuffing or meatloaf.
If you aren’t a bread fanatic like me, and are more normal, you might just want to think ahead and cut up a loaf of thick french bread the night before and leave it out to dry, or even the morning you want to make this. Or for a last minute thing, cut up the bread, lay it out on a sheet pan and throw it in an oven at 350 for 10 minutes until it’s crisp and dried out. You want to make sure you use a sturdy, chewy bread, or you’ll just end up with a soggy mess!
So I buttered my baking dish and laid about a cup of the bread cubes on the bottom in one layer. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Then I cut up my cooked chicken breasts, ham and grated the 2 cheeses.
In a medium sized saucepan, on medium heat, melt the butter and sprinkle on the flour, whisking quickly so it doesn’t burn. It will be a thick paste.
Pour your milk in and whisk it all quickly to totally combine. Let it start getting a little thick again.
Then pour in the chicken broth and dry cooking wine, if desired.
It will start getting thick again quite quickly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then turn off the heat.
Add in ½ a cup of the cheese mix and stir until melted and combined.
Go back to your baking dish and layer half of the ham, and then half the chicken.
Then on goes half of the remainder of your cheese.
And repeat – one layer of bread, then the remainder of ham and chicken.
Then take the creamy mixture and slowly pour it over the top of the whole dish very evenly so everything gets soaked.
It should look about like this.
Lastly, put on the last of the cheese and sprinkle on the panko bread crumbs. Put this into the oven for 40-45 minutes until it’s golden and bubbly.
It comes out smelling divine and looks like something that I want to eat.
This is an incredibly rich dish, so small portions are the way to start, even for a smaller recipe like this one. But oh my, the crispy crunch on the top gives it a great texture. The bread cubes were a chewier white artisan bread that really stood up with the creamy mixture and stayed chewy even though it absorbed the liquids.
And as much as I like to recommend pairing things like this with more bread, this time I would suggest a salad or fruit salad to offset the richness.
This is a great comfort meal type of dish when you feel like indulging a little while it’s still cold outside. And a great reminder for me the next day that my normal 20 minutes workout should probably be a 30-45 minutes to compensate! Enjoy!
– The Homesteaders Wife