What a great weeknight meal! Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that? My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.
Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered, I like adding mushrooms and a combination of a yellow and English white cheddar to this dish.
Why an English white cheddar you’re wondering? I’ve compared all kinds of white cheddar cheeses in the past, English white cheddar is the best.
I’m fortifying the flavor of my poached chicken for this dish. All that means is, I’m using the chicken poaching liquid to enhance the chicken flavor. This is my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 11 x 2) baking dish, mini food processor, chef’s knife, box grater
1 quart of chicken stock, unsalted (poaching liquid)
4 boneless- skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 cup of diced onions
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of a Fresno chili (approx. 1/2 a Fresno chili, seeded and minced)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice (Success, Boil-n-Bag Basmati rice, 2 packets, substitute brown rice)
2 1/2 cups of thawed frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (8-ounces) Philadelphia whipped-style original cream cheese, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup sour cream)
2 1/2 cups of whole milk, heated
1 3/4 cups of English white cheddar, freshly grated
1/4 cup of yellow cheddar, freshy grated
2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated reserve 4 tablespoons for the top
Spray a 9 x 11 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.
Note: Make sure the frozen broccoli florets are completely thawed. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large plate lined with a paper towel and pat dry as much as possible. Transfer the florets to a cutting board and give them a rough chop. Place into a bowl and set aside.
In a large saucepot, over medium heat, add 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (in a single layer), dried thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 1-quart chicken broth, enough to cover the chicken. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
While the chicken is poaching, start with the boil-in-a-bag rice. Follow the instructions on the box. Once the rice and water are brought to a boil, boil for 8 to 10 minutes, remove the rice from the bag and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.
The chicken should be opaque in color and have an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate. Next, dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the diced chicken to a bowl and set aside.
Next, in a large sautè pan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft and translucent. To the onions add the sliced mushrooms, minced Fresno chili, and dried thyme, cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. Continue sautèeing until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are nice and brown. Finally, add the broccoli florets and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the broccoli, mushroom, and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add to that the cooked rice and diced (cooked) chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set them aside for the time being.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Directions For Cheese Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and whisk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture turns blonde in color. Start by slowly whisking the hot milk in about 3 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and combined. Continue by slowly adding the remaining hot milk and whisking until the sauce thickens.
Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, switch to a wooden spoon, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
First, add the cream cheese, stir until smooth and combined. Next, add the grated Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar heese, again stir to combine. Transfer the cheese sauce to the large bowl containing the chicken and broccoli mixture, stir to combine.
Pour everything into a 9 x 11 x 2 greased baking dish spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Dice 2 tablespoons of butter into tiny cubes. Take the tiny cubes of butter and *DOT the top of the casserole.
Bake for 25 minutes or until completely heated through. Turn broiler to the ON position and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the top is golden brown. There you have it, my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.
*DOT: a food process involving the placement of small bits (butter) and/or pieces of food to evenly distribute particles over the top that are to be melted or absorbed.