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French Onion Chicken Casserole

French Onion Chicken Casserole (31)

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If you ask me what my favorite soup is I’ll tell you it’s definitely French onion. This dish combines all the ingredients of French onion soup into a chicken casserole. This is my French Onion Chicken Casserole.

I wanted to make a few changes to the recipe, making the dish my own. The part of the French Onion Soup I love the most is the bread and the cheese. I think everyone would agree on the cheese, but the bread, people either love that component of the soup or they don’t. I love the way the toasted bread acts as a bed absorbing all the juices and becomes melt in your mouth delicious.

Let’s get started with carmelizing the onions.

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Onions

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Ciabatta

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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French Onion Chicken Casserole (31)

French Onion Chicken Casserole (33)

Photo Mar 15, 5 34 58 PM

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 13 x 2-inch) baking dish, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, paring knife, toothpicks, 1 meat-safe cutting board

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of butter, unsalted and divided
4 large onions, halved and sliced thinly into half-moons
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, (optional)
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of white wine, or sherry
1 (10.5-ounce) can of beef consommè (substitute unsalted beef broth)
1 tablespoon of olive oil

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) of Gruyère cheese, freshly grated (substitute Mozzarella)
4 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish
1 package of pretoasted baguette slices or grilled and sliced Ciabatta bread (optional)

Note: If you can’t find pre-toasted baguette slices, it’s easy enough to make them yourself, and they should be made in advance of this dish.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 loaf of baguette, 1/4-inch slices (yields 16 slices)

Directions For Grilled Baguette:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

Directions For Caramelized Onions:
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add onions, granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and half the fresh thyme leaves. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes until soft.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, while stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and jammy, around 15 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup of the beef consommé when the pan gets too dry and continue stirring until onions are browned.

Pour in white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any of the bits sticking to the bottom. Allow the wine to reduce, cook for 1 minute until sauce thickens slightly.

Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, cook for 1 minute more. Turn the heat off and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Directions For Stuffing Chicken Breasts:
On a meat-safe board layout the six chicken breasts. Using a paring knife cut a slit into the side of the breast 3 inches long and 1/ 1/2 inches deep. Be sure not to cut all the way through. You just want to form a pocket for the stuffing. Do this to all the chicken breasts.

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the caramelized onions into each pocket.  Next, add as much of the shredded cheese as you’re able to fit inside the pocket. Do Not over stuff.  Seal with toothpicks.

In a small mixing bowl add garlic powder, dried rosemary, dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of  Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, whisk to combine. Using the seasoning mix, season both sides of each chicken breast.

In the same sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter with the olive oil. Cook the stuffed chicken breasts until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. The chicken will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the seared chicken breast to a large platter. Set aside.

Transfer the remaining caramelized onions to the greased baking dish spreading them out into one even layer.

With the pan still over medium-high heat, pour the remaining beef consommé into the sauté pan. *Deglaze the pan (using a wooden spoon, scrape all the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan). Reduce the heat and simmer until broth reduces by half. There should be about 1/2 cup of sauce in the pan.

Add 1/4 cup of the sauce to the prepared baking dish pouring it over the caramelized onions. This step is totally optional, if you choose, arrange the toasted baguette slices on top of the onions. The bread will soak up all the juices and act as a bed for the chicken.

Lay the stuffed chicken breasts on top of the slices of grilled baguette. Spoon the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce from the pan over each chicken breast. Top with the remaining thyme leaves. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.

Before serving, remove, and discard all toothpicks.

To Serve: Place one of the stuffed chicken breasts onto a serving plate along with some of the onions, grilled bread, and pan juices. Sprinkle the top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley. There you have it my French Onion Chicken Casserole.

*Deglaze: To dilute meat sediments in a pan and/or pot to make a gravy or sauce, typically using broth or wine.

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Broccoli Rice Casserole

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My Broccoli Rice Casserole is a great side dish, wonderful for the holidays, and perfect for family get-togethers.

I’m using a quick-cooking long-grain white (Basmati) rice because it’s my favorite. You could definitely substitute short-grain rice like Arborio which also would be delicious, it’s a personal preference. I’m also using frozen broccoli florets for this dish.

Most Broccoli Rice Casserole recipes call for sour cream, here I’m substituting Mascarpone cheese because whenever I can add Mascarpone to dishes, sweet or savory, I do.

One other option I’ve added to this recipe is to add a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs over the top of this dish, totally up to you. Let’s get started.

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Breadcrumbs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (2-quart) casserole dish, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, colander, 1 rimmed baking sheet pan, aluminum foil, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, chef’s knife

Note: One bag of rice makes about 2 cups of cooked rice. I made both bags of rice to ensure I’d have 2 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients:
1 pound (16 ounces) of frozen broccoli florets, thawed, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups of long-grain white rice, parboiled (Basmati, Success Boil-in-a-bag)
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (substitute short-grain rice, Arborio rice)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, extra butter for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of chicken broth/stock, reduced-sodium or unsalted (substitute vegetarian broth)
2 cups of whole milk (substitute 2%)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
2/3 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature (substitute sour cream)
1 cup (8 ounces) of mild Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese mix (substitute sharp cheddar)

Topping: optional
Combine
1/4 cup each of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs and Panko
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by buttering the baking dish and placing it onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Fill a large pot with water. Submerge the 2 bags of quick-cooking rice. Bring up to a boil, add a pinch of salt, cook the rice, according to box directions, only half the time, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, remove the 2 bags, allow the water to drain, open, and dump the parboiled rice into a medium-size mixing bowl. To the same pot of hot boiling water add the broccoli, stir, for 1 minute, drain into a colander, transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

In the same pot, add the butter, onions, and garlic and sweat them for a few minutes or until translucent (you don’t need to develop any color)n add the flour, stir it all in for a minute then add the milk and stock. Whisk well to get rid of any flour lumps and simmer while stirring the whole time until the mixture thickens.

Add the seasonings, whisk them in to combine really well, then add the 2/3 of the cheese and Mascarpone cheese followed by the partially cooked and drained rice and broccoli.

Give everything a big stir (at this point the mixture is runny and that’s exactly what you want because the rice will soak up the sauce as it cooks) pour into the buttered baking dish, cover with foil. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese (this would be the time to add the seasoned breadcrumb mixture over the top if desired) place back into the oven, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot. There you have it my Broccoli Rice Casserole.

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Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Thanksgiving Breakfast Casserole (10)

On Thanksgiving, a lot of us have family over for the holidays. In the morning, you want to have breakfast for your family but you don’t want to make it a big ordeal. I have a great idea that will feed everyone, and hold them over until the big meal. This dish is done casseroles-style, it’s my Holiday Breakfast Casserole.

My Holiday Breakfast Casserole can be made the day before so all you need to do is pop it in the oven the morning of.

Thanksgiving Breakfast Casserole (1)

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Thanksgiving Breakfast Casserole (8)

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Olive Oil

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Italian Chicken Sausage

Holiday Breakfast Casserole (6)

Sweet Italian Sausage (1)

Holiday Breakfast Casserole (9)

Stuffing (4)

I’m heading outside to my Organic Hanging Herb Garden to grab some fresh sage and Italian flat-leaf parsley.

Sage

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Stuffing (2)

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Stuffing (1)

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Holiday Breakfast Casserole (29)

Holday Breakfast Casserole (5)

Holday Breakfast Casserole (7)

Holday Breakfast Casserole (9)

Holday Breakfast Casserole (8)

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Holday Breakfast Casserole (1)

Holday Breakfast Casserole (2)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 12 hours, overnight to chill
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 13x 3) casserole dish, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, box grater

Ingredients:
2 pounds of hot Italian chicken sausage, casings removed (substitute mild chicken sausage or breakfast sage sausage)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 Granny Smith apples, 1-inch dice
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
12 large eggs, beaten
2 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted plus extra for greasing the casserole dish

1 loaf of Pepperidge Farm Swirl Pumpkin Cinnamon bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
On the day before serving, cut the pumpkin bread into 2-inch bite-size cubes. Spread them out in one even layer on each of the 2 rimmed sheet pans. Drizzle olive oil over the bread cubes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

Note: Keep a close eye on the bread while baking. I’m using fresh bread here so it may take a little longer to become golden brown. If using day-old bread or stale bread, it may brown faster.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat add the sausage, dried sage, and a very light sprinkling of Kosher salt. Cook until browned through 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Without cleaning the pan, still on medium heat add unsalted butter, apples, diced onion, 1 tablespoon of the chopped sage, and a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the apple mixture to a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Grease a large casserole dish with the butter. Layer in half the cubed pumpkin bread, half the cooked sausage, half the apple mixture, half the fresh chopped sage, and half the shredded cheese. Repeat the process with the other half of the same ingredients, ending with the shredded cheese. Slowly pour the egg mixture all over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Remove the casserole dish from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. Replace the plastic wrap with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking, 10 to 15 minutes more until the top is golden brown and slightly crisp.

Garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley. Let rest for around 10 minutes and serve warm.

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