Chicken Cordon Bleu Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 8 servings
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1¼ pounds)
1 (16-ounce) box cavatappi or fusilli pasta
3 cups half and half
1 cup chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces white American cheese, shredded
4 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
½-pound deli-sliced ham, cut into ¼ inch strips
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until golden brown on one side, about 7 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken. Place the pan in the oven and roast the chicken an additional 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. (The chicken will be slightly undercooked. It will finish in the oven.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook about 8 minutes. (The pasta will be undercooked. It will finish in the oven.) Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain well. Set aside until ready to use.
Meanwhile, heat the half-and-half, chicken broth and chicken bouillon in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a large pot and whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, add the hot liquid and cook until thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Dijon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Remove the pot from the heat add the cheese, stirring to melt. Add the chicken, ham, and cooked pasta to the pot and stir well. Add the pasta water, ½ cup at a time, to thin the sauce to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the pasta mixture into the dish and bake until the sauce is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the panko and cook until golden brown and crisp, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Remove the pan from the heat and toss the bread crumbs with parsley.
Let the macaroni sit for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle each serving with toasted breadcrumbs.