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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, And Rice Casserole

2016-04-20 20.49.53

 

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 do add mushrooms to mine, but the big difference is, I use a combination of white and yellow cheddar. I prefer a good white English cheddar.

2016-04-20 20.49.53

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 box of low sodium chicken broth (poaching liquid)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-1/2 cups of cooked rice ( 2 boil-n-bag rice packets)
2-1/2 cups of thawed and roughly chopped frozen broccoli florets
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless chicken breasts)

Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of sour cream
2-1/2 cups of whole milk
1-3/4 cup of shredded white English cheddar
1/4 cup of shredded yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 11 x 9 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure to defrost the frozen broccoli florets. If they are not thawed completely, place them into a large bowl of really warm warm water for a couple of minutes. Using a colander drain thoroughly.

Poach 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts in low sodium chicken broth with dried thyme, Kosher salt, and black pepper. The stove should be on medium heat so the chicken poaches low and slow. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer, into the pot, to cook evenly. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken so the chicken is completely covered. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. The chicken should be opaque in color and be at 165 degrees internally. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate.  Next dice the chicken into 1 inch cubes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the quick cooking rice in a bag. Follow the instructions on the box. Once cooked, remove from the bag and transfer to a large bowl. N

Next, in a large saute pan on medium heat, heat olive oil. Add diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, then add sliced mushroom, Kosher salt, and dried thyme and saute for another 4-6 minutes. Saute until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are brown. Add in the broccoli florets, toss through and saute for another minute.

Transfer the mushroom and broccoli mixture into the large bowl with the cooked rice and cooked diced chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

For the cheese sauce, in a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and beat with a whisk. Cook 1-2 minutes or until mixture turns light brown. Slowly beat in the milk, about 3 tablespoons at a time until smooth and combined. Heat to the mixture until it starts to boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and continue to cook and whisk for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Next, whisk in the sour cream, Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar cheese to the sauce mixture, reserving 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan for the top. Add the cheese sauce to the large bowl with the chicken and vegetables, stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese over the top. Dot with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes, scattered over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through.  Turn broiler on and cook another 3-5 minutes,or until top is golden brown

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Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey

2015-11-30 14.22.38

2015-11-30 16.34.18

This is my traditional recipe for making a turkey. My maple bourbon brine is the start. Echoing those flavors, I finish, with a maple bourbon gravy. The brine process starts 24 hours before the bird goes into the oven. It’s a lot of steps, all of which are easy and necessary, to have the most flavorful and tender turkey you’ll ever eat. This recipe has quite of few steps, but all are fairly easy. It’s really all in the planning.

Before starting the whole brine process, the turkey must me completely thawed. My recipe is listed in 3 parts. Part 1 is the brine. Part 2 is the prep of the turkey for the oven. Part three is cooking the turkey and making the gravy.

Part 1:
Process For The Brine -12 pound Turkey
Equipment:1 large plastic container with tight fitting lid and 1 large stock pot
Prep Time: 40-45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours plus 15 minutes

Cook Time: Bring the brine up to a boil then turn the heat off.
Place the brine into the refrigerator to chill completely.

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
2 orange peels
1 lemon peel
3 cloves of smashed garlic
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1-1/2 cups of bourbon
1-1/2  12 ounce bottles of pure maple syrup
15 sprigs of thyme  (no need to strip leaves)
1 large sprig of Rosemary ( no need to strip leaves)
5 bay leaves (dried)
2 tablespoons of tricolor peppercorns
1-1/2 cups of organic apple juice
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Prep all the ingredients for the brine including measuring out the water. Place all the ingredients listed above in a large stock pot. Turn stove on med high heat and bring everything up to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat source. Let the brine cool down, then place it into the frig, uncovered to chill, for around 30-35 minutes  or until completely cool.

Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and innards from the cavities of the bird. The only part I keep is the neck to make turkey stock from. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Completely pat dry the turkey really well. Place the bird into the brine container and back into the frig until the brine liquid has cooled.

Once the brine is ready and completely cooled, take the turkey in the brine container out and pour the liquid over the bird. The bird should be completely submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours. A quick note: Take notice on what time you place the bird into the brine. This will give you an idea of when the bird will be going into the oven. Allow an extra 20 minutes for rinsing the brine off the bird and letting it soak in clean water for 15 minutes. This will remove any extra salt flavor still on the bird. Then once again you will need to dry the turkey completely before part 2.

Part 2:
Once the bird has come out of the brine and well dried, it’s time to make a compound butter ( flavored butter) for the turkey. I have softened room temperature butter in a bowl. I add to that grated garlic, lemon and orange zest, Kosher salt, and black pepper. I mix all those ingredients together. With my clean hands!, I lift up the skin on the breast area, and slather as much of the butter underneath the skin as possible. Reaching as far around with breaking or tearing the skin. Next, I fill both cavities of the bird with flavorings.

Part 2:
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack
Cooking Time: about 2 hours 40 minutes
Ingredients:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
2 cloves of grated garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 onion
1 head of garlic cut in half lengthwise
10 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup  of Olive oil
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock- generally 2 cups (enough to fill the bottom of the roasting pan with liquid, having the level of liquid about 1 inch high). 1 quart is used to make the turkey stock

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a bowl place the softened butter. Add the zest of both the lemon and orange. Grate both garlic cloves and add that along with Kosher salt and black pepper. Mix all the ingredients together.Moving on, I release the birds legs from their packaging position as you see in the pictures.

Next, the same lemon and orange used for their zest, cut in half. Place one half of each one into each of the cavities. Then the garlic bulb. Again, place one half in each cavity. To those I add the 1 onion, peel still on, that I’ve quartered in both cavities. Finally, divide the sprigs of herbs up and place them into both cavity.

Now I rub the compound butter underneath the skin, reaching as far as you can without breaking the skin. Next, I rub the olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Then I sprinkle the  Kosher salt, and black pepper all over the turkey. Finally, I add the 2 cups of broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Part 3:

Place the turkey into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Every 30-45 minutes remove the turkey from the oven. Close the oven door to keep the heat in, and baste the turkey, using the juices from the bottom of the pan. About halfway through the cooking process, take the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer between the thigh and the breast meat for the best reading. This allows you to see how fast the bird is cooking and to gauge the time better. If you see the top is browning to quickly, place a foil tent over the turkey for the time remaining. Keeping in mind, that you still need to baste the turkey every 30-45 minutes or so. Once the turkey’s temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 2 hours 40 minutes, take the bird out of the oven.

Once the turkey is in the oven, this is what I’m doing on top of the stove.

I have the turkey neck place in the bottom of a large sauce pot. I cover the neck with 1 quart of unsalted chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper,  and 3 sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat up to med-high heat and bring this up to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook, on med low heat,  for about 1/1/2 hours. Once finished,  I strain the liquid, using a sieve, over a bowl to catch this delicious stock. Now I have a container of turkey stock along with a container with my leftover unsalted chicken stock (remember I only used 2 cups for the bottom of the roasting pan) to make my gravy.

At this point, remove the bird from the pan. I like to tilt the bird slightly over the roasting pan, so that any juices that are in the cavities will fall to the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on a large board and cover with foil until you ready to carve. Leave all the ingredients, in the cavities.

Directions For Gravy:
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
12 sage leaves (reserve 4 leaves chopped for the finished gravy)
1-1/2 cups of turkey stock
1 cup of unsalted chicken stock
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions;
First, I throw in the 8 sage leaves while the juices are still really hot. I just let them steep in the juices for a couple of minutes, then I remove them. I use one of those gadgets that separates the fat from the juices that accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. I discard the fat and pour the juices into a bowl.

I return the empty roasting pan to the stove, on med high heat.  I add in 1/4 cup of the turkey stock I made. Scraping the bits off the bottom until they all release. I also add these juices with the pan juices in the bowl. Now my pan juices have no fat but the extra flavor from the bits that came off the bottom of the pan.

Now I’m working with a clean roasting pan again, and I have it set to medium heat. To the pan I add in the butter. Let the butter melt then add in the flour. Whisking continuously until all the raw flour has cooked out. Next, I add in the pan juices that I reserved in the bowl along with the bourbon, maple syrup, chicken stock, and the turkey stock. I turn the heat back up to med-high heat, still whisking, and let all those ingredients come up to a bubble and thicken. I also add in the reserved chopped sage leaves for color and flavor in the gravy.

 

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