Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

A classic casserole, chicken is paired up with broccoli, rice, cream soup and cheese.
A classic casserole, chicken is paired up with broccoli, rice, cream soup and cheese.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

I finally got my recipe for broccoli and rice casserole up after a recent reader request, though it's pretty common with most other broccoli and rice recipes out in the world - cooked rice, cooked broccoli, cream of something soup and a few seasonings, all mixed together, turned out into a baking dish, sprinkled with cheese or a crumb topping and baked.

When I was browsing through my Trisha Yearwood cookbook Georgia Cooking however, while waiting for my newly ordered more recent cookbook of hers, Home Cooking to arrive, I saw this recipe for a Chicken Broccoli Casserole. Instead of combining all of the ingredients together, she layered hers, so I was intrigued and decided to give her version a try, with a few of my own elements thrown in. I loved it!

While I did use the lemon called for in the recipe, it does provide quite a tang to the casserole even for a lemon lover like me, and frankly, I would suggest leaving it out. Broccoli is such a super food that we ought to work it into our diets whenever we can and certainly in our children's diets early. While I don't think I'll give up my mix together and bake broccoli casserole, this really is a delicious take on that old timey standby and with the chicken, you've got a great main dish.




Make Ahead Freezer Tips:

Several years ago I did the Once-a-Month-Cooking method of freezer cooking and picked up some make ahead tips that I still use to this day.  Anytime that you can have things prepped ahead of time for dishes like this one, is a great time saver we all can use - but especially those of you who have the hardest job in the world - being a stay at home mom.  This is one of those great casseroles that can not only make use of that kind of make ahead freezer prep of the individual components, but can also be either doubled or divided into smaller dishes and prepared for the freezer.

Whenever I cook rice, I always make a full pot of it, no matter how much I need. What I don't use goes into the freezer to be re-hydrated and used another time.  All you have to do is microwave it, covered, with a splash of water and it comes back as good as freshly cooked!  The chicken I used was pieces from leftover cooked chicken that I tore off the bone and stored in the freezer.  I happened to have fresh lemons in the fridge, but check out this tip so you have fresh lemon juice available all the time.  The chopped broccoli can also be from leftover broccoli you made with dinner one night, but it really only takes a matter of minutes to cook frozen broccoli in the microwave.  Place it into a bowl with a little bit of water, cover it and microwave it on high for about 6 minutes, or simply wrap it in dampened paper towels and microwave.


All of that freezer prep, made a dish like this a total breeze to throw together in no time and I really liked the way that this casserole presents itself. Still not easy to photograph, but instead of a mess of cheesy goo all mixed together {not that there's a thing wrong with that}, each element stands on it's own on your plate instead.

If you don't have already cooked, leftover rice on hand and don't want to steam or boil rice, you can substitute a quick cooking rice like Minute rice if desired (for 2 cups cooked). Also, if you don't already have leftover cooked chicken on hand, place about 4 average sized, whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool enough to shred.


Here's how to make it.

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Yum

Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 3 cups of fresh, raw chopped broccoli, blanched
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (10 ounce) can of condensed cream of celery soup, (like Campbell's)
  • 1-1/2 cups of grated Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, or crumbled potato chips, or buttery crackers
  • 4 cups of shredded cooked chicken
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise and cream of celery soup. Add the garlic salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning; mix. Add the rice, broccoli, one cup of the cheese and the chicken. Mix well and turn out into the prepared casserole dish.

Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F, in the upper section of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add the crumb topping and the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes or until the crumbs brown and cheese melts. Check the center to make sure it is cooked through. Let sit for a few minutes to settle before serving. Can freeze.

Cook's Notes: Omit the chicken to make it a simple Broccoli and Rice Casserole, or omit the rice for a simple Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli dish. May substitute thawed and drained frozen broccoli for the fresh.

Variation: To layer, spread the rice in the bottom of the pan and top evenly with the broccoli; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise and cream of celery soup. Add the garlic salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning; mix. Add one cup of the cheese and the chicken. Spread mixture over the top of the broccoli layer and smooth out. When layering bake casserole on the center rack of the oven.

Source: http://www.deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Adapted from Trisha Yearwood's Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen
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Posted by on May 4, 2010
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