Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blue Ribbon Pasta

Sometimes I think, I should have trained at Le Cordon Bleu, the French culinary institute.  I could go on shows like Chopped and Next Food Network Star or Top Chef.  I could walk around saying fancy French words like "bonjour" or "comment allez-vous" or "enchante."  I could wear a toque (a chef's hat) and answer my sous chefs "oui, oui."  But I'm not a classically French trained chef.  I'm just Cindy.

So what does "cordon bleu" mean anyway?  Well, I'll tell you.  It means blue ribbon.  It means the best.  It means numero uno.  Oh, sorry.  That's Spanish.  So what does chicken cordon bleu have to do with Le Cordon Bleu?  If you believe Wikipedia, then they have nothing to do with each other.  Supposedly, the dish was created in Switzerland, hence the Swiss cheese.  And it's usually a stuffed meat, breaded and fried, like a schnitzel, which is German.  Are you as confused as I am?

Whatever the origin, it's darn tasty.  I have done it the traditional way before, but I have to stay true to my character and change things up.  So I made it into a pasta with a rich creamy bechamel sauce (that's French, for sure), sauteed mushrooms, and ham.  You can use whatever pasta you like here.  I just happened to have spaghetti in the pantry.  Oh, and I didn't have Swiss cheese so I used Monterrey jack.  I can't seem to behave.  When I tried to throw out the leftover Chicken Cordon Bleu Spaghetti, my husband chained himself to the fridge in protest, citing his inalienable right to pasta.  I let him have his way.

Can you find your English to French dictionary?  You're going to need it.

2 C cooked, shredded chicken
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1 lb spaghetti
3/4 C diced ham (I used some deli ham)
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 C half and half (suprise!  I didn't use heavy cream)
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C flour
Salt & pepper
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 C shredded cheese, divided in half

Cook the spaghetti according to directions.

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and drizzle in some olive oil. Cook the onion until tender.  Add in the mushrooms and cook until they are browned.  Throw in the ham and heat through.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for a minute or two.  Add in the chicken stock and garlic and deglaze the pan once again.  Add in the chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat.

For the bechamel sauce, whisk the flour and the vegetable oil together in a pot.  Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat to cook the flour. Add in the half and half and whisk and cook until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat.  Stir in the 1 C shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the cooked chicken mixture with the cooked spaghetti and the sauce.  Put this mixture in a 9 x 13 pan and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.

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