Several times a year I help my good friend, Karinna, to cook a luncheon at her church. We usually plan for 75-100 people. Karinna has a good selection of meals she chooses from; all made from scratch and absolutely delicious! Karinna has celiac disease so many of these meals are gluten free. This is one of those meals. When I make it for my family I dont always go with the gluten free option, depending on what I have on hand. I’ll note those changes in italics.
Karinna’s Chicken Cordon Bleu 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 ham, rough chopped
1/4 pound thin sliced baby Swiss cheese
[For the sauce:]
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons gluten free or all purpose 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
[For the topping:]
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs or regular 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.