Main Course, Poultry

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

34 Comments 16 November 2012

A while back, as in last year a while back, a Twitter friend asked if we might try some casserole recipes here on Full Fork Ahead. I thought, sure, why not. I can get behind a casserole or two. But. The thing is, many of them have that canned Cream of Something in them, and I was looking for ones without Cream of Anything At All. I won’t pretend I haven’t cooked with Cream of Something before and enjoyed it mightily, but we try to find recipes for this place that aren’t the norm or have a fun, tasty twist on the norm, and are still easy enough.

Enter this casserole.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 16

Admittedly, the best thing about making this casserole is the pre-cooked chicken and ham. The recipe suggested using a store-bought rotisserie chicken and I’m all over that one, people. You want ease? Indeed you do. You can has all the ease with this recipe. The ham is just deli-sliced honey ham. Shaaa-wing.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 15

After taking all the meat off the chicken and shredding it (you can do this step a day ahead), just start layering. Down goes the cooked chicken. Bam! Down goes the diced deli ham. Bam two!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 14

Next you layer on the deli thin-sliced Swiss cheese. Don’t hate me for saying it, but I might, uuuh….put more cheese on next time.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 13

Our béchamel sauce turned out much more red in color due to the paprika called for. The original recipe pics show a perfect white sauce, so I’m not sure how theirs didn’t turn color like ours, but no matter. It still tasted delicious. We just luuuuuuv béchamel sauce. Pour, baby, pour. Pour it all on.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 12

The next step is to sprinkle on some butter-infused panko bread crumbs. Some seasoned salt is called for, but sis blogging partner and I agreed we’re not the biggest fans of it, so we just seasoned the crumbs with a little of the dried parsley called for and a little regular salt and pepper.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 17

Oh lookit – a handy dandy before and after shot!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 3

At first I didn’t really smell this baking. One of the best things about cooking this time of year is how delicious the house comes to smell as your efforts morph in the oven into Delicious Things. Thankfully after about thirty minutes I began to smell it. And want it.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 8

And we had it, oh yes. Chicken Cordon Bleu happens to be one of my hubby’s most favorite dishes ever, so he was ecstatic to have this on his plate later that night. It’s not nearly as rich as you might think, with the sauce and cheese and all. It’s really filling though, and warm and gooey and just perfect for these very cool Fall nights. Pair it with a simple veggie and you’re well on your way to a perfect, easy meal.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Very slightly adapted from That’s Some Good Cookin’ via The Tasty Kitchen

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 50 minutes    Level: Easy    Serves: 6-8

For the casserole:

  • 1 whole cooked chicken, bones removed, meat diced or shredded (rotisserie chicken is excellent, should have 5-6 cups)
  • 1/2 pound very thinly sliced deli-style honey ham, rough chopped
  • 1/4  pound thin sliced baby Swiss cheese

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • salt, to taste

For the topping:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Put cooked shredded or diced chicken on the bottom of the baking dish. Rough chop the ham and scatter it over the top of the chicken. Lay the Swiss cheese on top of the ham.

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When butter is melted, quickly stir in the flour to form a smooth roux. Do not brown! Once the roux is smooth and bubbly, slowly pour in the cold milk while stirring briskly to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, smoked paprika and white pepper. Bring sauce just back to a low boil and turn off heat. Pour sauce evenly over the casserole, being certain to get some of the sauce around the edges of the pan.

To make the topping: Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium sized microwaveable bowl. Heat it for 30 seconds at a time and stop once it’s melted. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir in the panko bread crumbs, seasoning salt and crushed dried parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake casserole uncovered for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly throughout and topping has turned a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

Notes:

Things you can do ahead:

1. Shred your chicken a day ahead if you want to.

2. Make the casserole up to the step where you pour on the sauce, cover and refrigerate till the next day. The next day take it out of the fridge for a little while to allow it to take some of the chill off, make up the breadcrumb topping and bake as instructed above.

3. Make the casserole completely the morning of the day you want to serve it. Let it cool completely, cover and refrigerate. That night, take it out of the fridge about an hour before baking to allow the chill to come off a little. Bake again, covered loosely with foil to prevent further browning, at 350 for about thirty minutes to reheat. (I only suggest this last idea because this is what I did the day we made this for the blog; it was a delish dinner for the hubby and I that night and it reheated great.)

The rotisserie chickens at my store tend to be on the smaller side, so I got two that day – they were on sale yaaaay. Good thing I did. One would not have been 5 cups of chicken.

Notes on the salt in particular: We’ve been getting several comments recently on this being a salty recipe. In looking back at the ingredients, I decided to change the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in that part to just “salt, to taste”, and the butter in the topping to unsalted butter. Both my sister and I have begun to watch our salt intake more over the last year or so, and often measurements in a recipe like this can be switched up to suit different tastes. When it comes to adding salt, if it ever seems like too much, add a little at a time and taste each time to see if it’s right for you. This has become one of my own basic techniques while cooking. As I’ve told a couple of commenters below, I don’t even use the total amount of salt that was specified before.

Others have commented that it’s possibly items like the rotisserie chicken, ham and/or cheese that is overly salty, and while you can’t always control the salt in those items, you might be able to find low-salt ham options at a deli counter, and when push come to shove, you can always cook your own plain chicken to use in this casserole (though, of course, no telling what that tastes like till you try it). Better yet – taste that rotisserie chicken (if you use one) first before ever putting it in the casserole. Is it noticeably salty? Hope those suggestions help, and thank you all for commenting.

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- who has written 324 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and book blogger, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

34 Comments so far

  1. Monica says:

    This looks so good and perfect for this weekend..just love your blog …I can just pull it up at the grocery store and get the ingredients quickly.

  2. I’m really not into the whole canned cream stuff either! Love this casserole though. I always have leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco (which is like the best thing ever!) so I will most definitely have to give this casserole a try! YUM!

  3. Amber says:

    Hubs made this for us yesterday. So good! And our cheese was sliced a bit thicker than yours, so we probably had quite a bit more cheese :)

  4. Awesome, I like it a lot. I even could smell it from here. LOL

  5. I’m so glad that you liked the casserole. I agree with you on the size of the grocery store rotisserie chickens…they are really skinny runts these days. I almost always use Costco chickens. Those things are the size of Texas! Thanks for giving this recipe a try and blogging about it.

  6. Emily says:

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I’ll definitely be making it again, and the sauce was so much richer (and less salty!) than the canned “Cream of Whatever”.

    I added a cup and a 1/2 of leftover rice to the bottom of the casserole, and used four baked and chopped chicken breasts instead of the roti chicken, it worked out really well. The only thing I would do differently next time is layer the sauce over the rice, then the chicken, then the ham, etc. and add a dash more cayenne.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Helen says:

    Can you add potatoes to this recipe?

    • KMont says:

      I’m sorry, I honestly have no idea if adding potatoes would be a good thing to do or not, and what it would do to the recipe.

    • Kim says:

      Just offering up my opinion, but if you were to add potatoes, I’d imagine you could slice them thinly, slightly pre-cook them, and layer them among the chicken and ham. It’s an interesting idea, not sure what it would do to overall flavor, but again, I imagine the potatoes would go fairly well with the tastes already in this casserole. If you give it a try, let us know how it turns out!

      • KMont says:

        The reason I hesitate to offer even an assumption of what might happen is because we haven’t experimented with adding potatoes. There’s no way for me to assure someone that potatoes will work, this will happen, etc. But absolutely, yes, let us know if you try it and we’d love to see how it turned out for you, like with the lady above who added cooked rice.

  8. Michelle says:

    Do you think this could be made in bulk for a steam table or in a rosters/crock pot?

    • KMont says:

      It’s possible, but once again, there’s no way for me to say for sure since we didn’t do those things with this particular post. I have no experience with a buffet-style serving table like a steam table, and if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say there’s no point to doing this in the crock pot since it takes so little time in the oven. But I can understand why some might like to try it. Still, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t know how to answer that without trying it first myself.

      ETA 3/10/14: Another thought on the crock pot….one reason this doesn’t strike me as a crock pot meal is because all you’re really using the oven for is to heat the ingredients up. The chicken and ham is already cooked. You make a sauce on the stove top, add that, top with the bread crumbs and all that’s really getting done in the oven is the heat it all up. The breadcrumbs get crisp, but that’s it. If you’re just looking to keep it all warm, I suppose it might be worth a try. Not sure that the breadcrumbs will crisp, but maybe if you toast them first, then add them on top?

  9. Tamara says:

    I loved this recipe! Added sauteed spinach and garlic to the chicken for some veggies to round it out.

  10. Helena says:

    Made this last night. Found it to be a bit salty. Maybe it may have been the rotisserie chicken I bought . Other than that it was good. Will make again, however will eliminate the salt. Thanks for sharing.

    • KMont says:

      If I remember correctly, the original even used seasoned salt, but that seemed much too salty. Definitely always be cautious with salt and just do it to taste if unsure about the amount. Whenever I make this now I usually don’t add all the salt amounts. Glad you enjoyed it, though! :)

  11. Kathy says:

    I recently made this and found it good but salty. There is salt in the ham, cheese, sauce, and topping. Next time I will use unsalted butter for topping and omit where I can. Also, seemed a little watery and needed more sauce. I used lunchmeat ham instead of getting from the deli, could be the reason. Willing to give it another try as it would be a good dish to take to church pot-lucks.

    • KMont says:

      This seems to be a common observation of this recipe, but I swear I don’t remember it being overly salty whenever I’ve made it. Sorry that part didn’t work for you, but salt is definitely something that can be controlled in this one. As I’ve mentioned to others in this thread, I don’t even use all the salt that’s called for, and we actually omitted a lot of salt when we followed the original recipe. But you’re definitely right that many of the ingredients could already have salt in them, too, depends on the particular items chosen. I tend to look for items that are low-salt these days or no-salt-added.

      On the sauce being runny – I looked up the original recipe again and saw many commenters there complaining of this as well. Maybe next time try omitting the lemon juice, or maybe just less of it. I hadn’t used lemon juice in a bechamel sauce before, and when I made this recently, my sauce was a little runny, too. Nice to see a fellow lover of sauce, though! I often want more sauce, too. ;)

  12. karen says:

    Going to have this tonight. I layered the chicken,ham and cheese I’m thinking not enough chicken only bought one chicken from the deli. I’m going to get another chicken and shred some on top the cheese and then sprinkle a little more cheese on top well because more cheese!

  13. Dawne says:

    Looks wonderful but I would caution you when making the roux: Bring butter to a low boil and REMOVE from heat when whisking in the flour. RETURN to the heat and allow to “cook” for a few minutes. You need to cook the flour before you add the milk and seasoning. I learned this hint from weatching Julia Child

  14. Christina says:

    I was skeptical. After making the roux, I did not like the taste of it and was sad that I had wasted so much in the way of ingredients. But I continued on with the recipe, pretty sure no one would eat it. After it came out of the oven, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it, but still expected my family to turn their noses to it. Imagine my surprise when, in the course of one evening, my family of four polished off the entire thing and my picky children declared it “amazing!!” Thanks for a great recipe!

    • KMont says:

      Glad it worked out for you in the end! I know how you feel. It’s disappointing to spend the time let alone the money on a lackluster recipe. Been there, done that plenty!

  15. Denise says:

    Was wondering what mustard could be substituted in place of dijon? Any suggestions?

    • KMont says:

      It’s really up to you, if it’s just that you don’t care for dijon mustard. You can try any other kind you’d like, I’m just not sure what it will taste like, of course. I’ve only ever used the dijon in this.

      I think the dijon is mainly for flavor in this dish. If you’re not wanting to use mustard at all, when I googled substitutes for dijon, I came up with suggestions for horseradish. Not sure if that’s any closer to what you want, though.

  16. Robin says:

    I made this for the second time tonight. I added a pound of par boiled macaroni and doubled the sauce. I poured the sauce over until my dish was filled (didn’t use all of it). I also used a full pound of Swiss. It came out like a cordon bleu macaroni and cheese. Very good!

  17. Abby says:

    Thank you so much for putting ahead of time suggestions. As a pregnant mother with a toddler, dinner prep time is bewithching hour and having it all ready makes life much simpler! We will be trying it tomorrow night, for sure!


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