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 {affil link} however, while waiting for my newly ordered more recent cookbook of hers, Home Cooking {affil link} 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 don't think I'll give up my classic mix all together and bake broccoli casserole, the layering is a delicious alternative too that you may want to consider. I've included that in the cook's notes at the bottom of the recipe printable below.

This is a good place to insert a quick reminder... that this is a blog, not just a "recipe site," and yes, there is a difference! I want to first thank all of you who have supported my work over the years. Your notes to me are uplifting and encouraging, however, if you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, photos, tips and such in a post, as always, you'll find the complete recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Here's how to make my Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and cream of celery soup. While I did use the lemon called for in the recipe, it does provide a bit of a tang to the casserole even for a lemon lover like me, so keep that in mind if you don't care for lemon, although I do think that it does help to enhance the flavor of the overall casserole.

Whisk together.

Add the garlic salt, pepper and Creole or Cajun seasoning. Whisk together well.

To layer, see variation at the bottom of the recipe printable below, but basically it is rice on the bottom, topped with a layer of broccoli, the seasoned sour cream mixture, mixed with the chicken and then the topping when time. Otherwise, add the rice, broccoli, cheese and the chicken to the sour cream mixture. 

Mix well. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Turn out into the prepared casserole dish.

Spread out in dish but do not pack. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F, in the upper section of the oven for 30 minutes. 

Crush the crackers. I would usually use Ritz, but I had more whole grain saltines than any other cracker, so that's what I used here. Since it was only about a half a sleeve of them, I just used my hand masher.

Combine the topping ingredients - crackers, butter and cheese - and set aside.

Carefully remove casserole from oven.

Add the crumb topping and return to the oven for about another 10 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and crumbs are lightly browned. 

Check the center to make sure it is cooked through. Let sit for a few minutes to settle before serving. 

Prep Ahead Tips:

Several years ago I did the Once-a-Month-Cooking {affil link} 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. Just let it thaw the day before you plan to cook it and wait to add the topping until you bake it.

Whenever I cook rice, I always make a full pot of it, no matter how much I need. I refrigerate it and 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!

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).

The chicken I used was pieces from leftover cooked chicken that I tore off the bone and stored in the freezer.

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.

I happened to have fresh lemons in the fridge, but you can certainly use a refrigerated 100% lemon juice or 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 fresh broccoli in the microwave. Place it into a bowl with a little bit of water, cover it and microwave it on high for about 4 to 6 minutes (depending on the wattage of your microwave), or simply wrap it in dampened paper towels and microwave. I have also used frozen and thawed broccoli in casseroles.

Using some of that prep, makes a dish like this a total breeze to throw together in no time!

For more of my favorite casserole recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Adapted from Trisha Yearwood's Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen {affil link}

Posted by on May 4, 2010
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