Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Probably one of the top 5 special occasion dinner my family requests is Chicken Cordon Bleu. It is a wonderful dinner that we all love but it is quite time consuming to make the traditional way. It is definitely NOT a quick end of the working day kind of meal.
So, I came up with this spin on that favorite dish that IS a quick easy weeknight dinner. It has all the same great flavors, just in a new and more family friendly form.
The simple fact that I added a Bearnaise sauce to this casserole lifted the meal from a lowly casserole status to a requested Birthday meal! Everyone in our family are serious Bearnaise addicts. On veggies, on steak, on chicken...we really don't care.
I hope you enjoy this twist on a classic.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

3  whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups ham (cubed, shredded, leftover...whatever you have)
2 cups swiss cheese ( cut into cubes or pieces not shredded)
1 1/2 cups italian style bread crumbs
4 eggs beaten with 1/4 cup milk
1 packet of Bearnaise sauce - prepared following the pkg instructions (or make your own(recipe below) but this is supposed to be the quick and simple version..Bearnaise packets are in the gravy aisle and most call for butter and milk!)
oil for frying

preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9 or similar baking dish with cooking spray.
Cut the chicken breast into bite sized pieces.  Heat the oil about 1/2 inch deep in a skillet. 
Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture, then roll in bread crumbs.  Brown the pieces in the hot oil. The chicken needs to be browned on all sides but does not need to be cooked through as it will finish cooking when it is baked.  Fry all of the chicken in this way (careful to work in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan as this prevents nice browning) As the chicken is done, drain for a minute on paper towels then put in the baking dish.  Add the chunks of ham and swiss cheese. Toss together so ham and cheese and chicken are evenly spread  throughout the pan. 
Pour 1/2 the prepared Bearnaise sauce evenly over all.   Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until chicken is done, and everything is all hot and melty.
Remove from the oven and pour the  other 1/2 of the sauce over all and serve.

Homemade Bearnaise

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 egg yolks
1 stick butter, melted
Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the tarragon, shallots, vinegar and wine over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a blender blend yolks and the reduced mixture together. With the blender running, add 1/3 of the melted butter in a slow steady stream. Once it emulsifies, turn the blender speed up to high and add the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper.

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