This is a recipe that I found on the 30 Day Gormet website . The first time I made it, I followed it to the letter to see what the original tasted like.It was very rich. It has quite a bit of saturated fat from all the butter and half & half. The next time I made it, I altered the recipe to decrease the fat content and to substitute healthier fat for some of the saturated fat.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Lasagna
8 cups chopped chicken breast (about 4 lbs of chicken)
6 cups chopped ham (about 2.5 lbs of ham, I try to buy the lowest fat, cooked ham I can find)
3 lbs grated mozzerella cheese (I use this because it is lower in fat than other cheeses)
4 cups chicken broth (I use home-made broth left over from crock pot cooking chicken)
10 cups 1 or 2% milk
2 cups canola oil
1.5 cups flour
3 boxes lasagna noodles (I use Barilla no-boil, oven ready. They are shorter than other noodles and fit the 6x9 casserole dishes perfectly.)
In large stock pot, mix canola oil with flour. Heat until bubbly. Cook a couple of minutes over medium heat. Add milk and chicken broth. Cook stirring over low-medium heat until sauce thickens. You are making a basic white sauce with a mixture of chicken broth and milk. (The original recipe used some milk, some half & half, and a lot of butter for this.)
Because my youngest has just recently cut his baby molars, I have been using my food processor to finely chop the chicken and ham so that he can easily eat this without having to chew the meat. You may process your chicken and ham so that they are chopped, diced, shredded or whatever to the consistency that you prefer.
I like to set up my ingredients assembly line style so that I have a row of casserole dishes, then I have the stock pot of sauce, large bowls of chicken and ham (which may be mixed together if you wish), boxes of noodles, and a large bag of grated mozzerella cheese. I also set out a bowl of cold water. I soak the noodles in the water for 2-3 minutes just to make sure they are wet when they go in the casserole. For each layer, I use 1/2 cup sauce for 6x9 sized dishes and 2/3-1 cup sauce for 9x13 sized dishes. I use enough ham and chicken to make a layer about 3/8 inch thick or so.
Then I assemble as follows:
I double checked the list. I do leave cheese out of the second layer and put it on top instead. I like to make sure that there is plenty of sauce on the noodles because they are uncooked and will absorb liquid from the sauce during baking. If your sauce is thinner than you think it should be, it is probably okay, as it will thicken during baking when the noodles absorb liquid.
When I have used up all of the ingredients, I put a layer of saran wrap over each casserole. Then I go over to the sink and run a little water on the saran wrap to make a layer of water on top. Then I put on the plastic lid. Sometimes a little water leaks out. When this freezes, it makes a layer of ice on top of the dish that helps keep the saran wrap in contact with the food and prevent air from getting to it. Less air means less freezer burn. Is this really necessary? Probably not. I do it because I want my food to taste as fresh as possible. You can skip the water step and just put your casseroles right into the freezer if you wish.
Chicken Cordon Bleu normally uses Swiss cheese. I don't like the strong taste of Swiss cheese (although my husband does), so that is another reason for my switch to mozzerella. If you would like to use swiss cheese, feel free to substitute. You can just lay on slices instead of trying to grate it. If you buy sliced ham, you can also put this in your layers as slices instead of chopping it. Whatever makes it faster and easier is the way to go. I have also added in 2 layers (right above the chicken/ham layer) of fresh spinach leaves. It turned out well. Feel free to experiment and add things to make it to the tastes of your family.
If you bake one right away without freezing, you'll need to cover with aluminum foil (to hold in as much moisture as possible) and bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or so. If baking from frozen, bake for 1 hr-1 hr an 15 minutes, covered with foil, then remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes. Either way, oven temp is 350 degrees. If you have some errands to run and need to bake it slower and it's frozen, I have baked at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes and then removed the foil for 10 more minutes with success.
Yield: The above quantities will yield about 4 casseroles in the 9x13 size dishes. If you use smaller dishes, you will get 8 or 9 casseroles. Another time when I made only 2 large (9x13) casseroles, I used the following quantities of ingredients: 1 cup oil, 3/4 cup flour, 6 cups milk, 2 cups broth for sauce.