Monthly Archives: June 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Here in our household of two (now that my sister and her family have a place of their own again), we’ve been actively avoiding recipes that are too fussy during the week. Paul has been working nights, and sleeping in the afternoon and evenings before heading to work at 9pm, so needless to say, I don’t feel like the trouble of cooking or putting too much thought or effort into a recipe if I’m the only one who would be enjoying it. Not saying that we dislike challenging recipes – we just save them for the weekends.

Paula Deen recipes aren’t usually known for being healthy, and this particular one is no exception to the rule. There is one thing that is great about this recipe, though – there are plenty of opportunities within to make this much healthier. Using whole wheat pasta (or at the very least, multi grain or added fiber) and whole wheat bread crumbs (Ian’s makes a really tasty whole wheat Italian panko) will up your intake of fiber and healthy whole grains. You could probably even get away with using fat-free half and half, since the sauce will be thickened with flour and will allow a lot more leeway in the texture and mouth feel of the sauce for you to be able to reduce the fat elsewhere. This recipe makes plenty of pasta, and with a few modifications to your meal, it will serve a family of 4 easily if you increase the number of chicken breasts you make from two to four, and if you also serve it with some steamed or sautéed veggies or a salad. Easy-peasy, and this is a great recipe for a busy night. Start to finish, we were able to get this on the table in around a half an hour. This recipe also has the added bonus of using pantry and freezer stores – in one fell swoop, we were able to use chicken, leftover frozen holiday ham, the remainder of a quart of half and half, an already opened bag of egg noodles in the pantry, and the rest of a big wedge of gruyere that I had bought for another recipe. If I make it again, I would probably add some frozen peas to the sauce to add a little more texture and nutrients. I know it’s not a regular ingredient in most chicken cordon bleu recipes, but no one said we needed to follow the rules, right?

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
recipe slightly modified from Cooking With Paula Deen

1 c. Italian style panko bread crumbs
¾ tsp. minced fresh thyme plus fresh thyme for garnish
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼-inch thickness
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ c. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ c. chopped leftover ham (or use deli ham in a pinch)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. half and half
½ c. shredded Gruyere cheese
3 c. hot cooked egg noodles

To prepare chicken:
In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, thyme, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Brush both sides of chicken breasts with mustard. Dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken, and cook for 4 minutes. Add remaining olive oil to skillet, turn chicken, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Place chicken on a cutting board to rest while you prepare the pasta.

To prepare pasta:
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and ham, cook for 2 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir in half and half. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add cheese, stirring until melted. Add hot cooked pasta to pan, tossing gently to coat with sauce.

To assemble:
Spoon pasta onto serving plates. Slice chicken crosswise into ½-inch thick slices, and place sliced chicken over pasta. Garnish with fresh thyme, if desired. Makes two servings.