All the classic flavors of the famous dish, Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta is pure, tasty comfort food, topped with a creamy, cheesy Dijon sauce.
If you’ve followed my blog at all, you might have noticed that I have this thing for taking the ingredients and flavor palates of a well-known dish, and making them into something else.
Usually, soup is the goal, but, something pasta-y is a favorite target, too.
Traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu is cheese wrapped in ham wrapped in chicken wrapped in breading, and then baked or pan fried. All very serviceable.
But check this out:
Holy moly! Pasta heaven.
Now, I certainly didn’t invent the pasta version of chicken cordon bleu, as the internets will bear out, but sometimes recipe inspiration doesn’t come from Pinterest or Instagram. Sometimes, it’s just a light bulb moment, when you’re half leaning in the fridge, wondering what in the world to make for dinner, and suddenly the intersection of leftovers and carb cravings and an overwhelming need for cheese sauce works its magic and >boom< there it is.
And that’s what happened here. If you have extra rotisserie chicken, or maybe a bit of holiday ham — too much to toss, but not enough for an entire meal (you know how it goes with leftovers) — then you have the ingredient base for Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta.
The huge advantage of using pre-cooked meat is that dinner comes together in a flash. It sounds a little fancy, but it’s a perfectly doable weeknight meal: stove to table in under an hour, even with the easy homemade cheese sauce.
And, oh, that cheese sauce. Some cheese from the Swiss family — I used Gruyere — some Dijon, a little Worcestershire, and creamy bliss is just moments away.
The Dijon mustard not only adds a nice tang, but also cuts the heaviness of this dairy-heavy sauce. And, if you look closely at the photos in this post, you can see that I use just enough sauce to coat everything, but not to smother the dish in a pool of it. That’s my preference, but the choice, of course, is yours! The amount this recipe makes is somewhere between “coating” and “goopy.”
If you’re a just-a-coating person, like me, hold back some of the sauce. But if you’re all in on the saucy sauces, go for the whole thing!
Now, I’m a veggie lover, so I also had to throw in some onions and mixed colors of sweet bell peppers. They not only enhance the flavors of the dish, but they add pretty punches of color and a dose of healthy-ingredient-guilt-relief. (Note: there’s really nothing healthy about this dish, lol. I file the previous sentence under, “fooling myself.”)
If your family loves the flavor combo of chicken cordon bleu, this pasta version is a no-fuss, weeknight, pasta feast.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta with Cheesy Dijon Sauce
for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup grated Swiss cheese or Jarlsberg or Gruyere
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
for the pasta
- 8 ounces penne rigate (I prefer mini)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (leftover or rotisserie)
- 1 cup cubed smoked ham (leftover works great)
- kosher salt
- flat leaf parsley, minced, for garnish
make the sauce
- In a medium pot, heat the butter over medium until melted. Stir in the flour with a spatula or whisk to form a loose paste, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup of the half-and-half and stir until incorporated into the flour paste. Add the remaining dairy and repeat. Keep stirring, until the mixture begins to thicken. Mix in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the cheeses and stir until melted. Turn off the heat.
make the pasta
- Prepare the penne rigate according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium until the butter is melted.
- Add the onions and peppers and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let sizzle for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.
- Add the chicken and ham to the pan, followed by the drained pasta.
- Check the cheese sauce: you want the sauce to be pourable, like melted ice cream. If it's thickened up too much, mix in small amounts of the reserved pasta water, until it's the proper thickness. Taste the sauce, and add pinches of salt as need (probably won't be necessary because the cheeses are salty).
- Pour the sauce over the pasta, and gently fold the contents of the pan to coat everything thoroughly. Garnish with the parsley, and serve.
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