Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

Disclaimer:  If you are on a diet or counting calories, I would stop reading now.  It is indulgent.  It’s in my top 5 favorite meals I’ve ever made.  It’s that good.  So I’ve been thinking all week about making some sort of Chicken Cordon Bleu dish – I had bought some ham and Swiss cheese this weekend, but just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.  And then this morning it hit me like a ton of bricks – make a chicken cordon bleu inspired mac and cheese!  Yes please!  I ended up staying home with a sick kid today, so the afternoon nap gave me the time to do this on a weeknight.  It was so delish, it prompted a 5 o’clock dinner time so it would still be warm.  This is a mac and cheese that feeds like a meal.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac & Cheese

2 chicken breasts, boiled and shred
12 ozs elbow macaroni
6 cups chicken stock
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (reserved from the 6 cups used to cook macaroni)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cup white cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of deli ham, diced
3 tbsp butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried parsley

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add chicken broth to a large pot, add macaroni and cook according to package to al dente.  When pasta is done cooking, drain, reserving 1 1/4  cup of the chicken stock. Return macaroni to pot, add lemon juice and olive oil to pasta, stir well.  Set aside.
2.) In a non-stick skillet, add onion, bacon and garlic.  Sauté over medium-high heat until onions begin to caramelize and bacon is done, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.
3.) In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and slowly add flour. Whisk constantly. Cook for about a minute, then, while stirring add chicken stock. Next, add heavy cream, sour cream, bay leaves, sugar and onion/garlic/bacon mixture.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Remove bay leaves, add 1 cup of Swiss and 1 cup of white cheddar.  Stir until cheese is completely melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.
4.) To make seasoned breadcrumbs, add the 1/4 tsp each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and parsley to the panko. Mix well.  Melt the butter in a small pan and add breadcrumb mixture, stirring until butter and breadcrumbs are fully incorporated.
5.) In a 9″x13″ casserole dish, add macaroni, shredded chicken, ham and cheese sauce. Mix until everything is evenly coated.  Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup each of the remaining Swiss and white cheddar.  Next, evenly distribute the breadcrumbs over the casserole.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is brown and the edges are bubbly.


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