Thursday Cooking Adventure: Chicken-Broccoli Casserole

I had some thawed chicken in the fridge, a bit of broccoli languishing since Christmas, about to ‘turn’ and a hankering for a casserole.  I found a recipe that seemed simple and was well-rated.

But, of course, it just wouldn’t be an “adventure” if I didn’t realize when I got home that I didn’t QUITE have the correct stuff and therefore needed to improvise.  Even better?  Adam D loves only dark-meat chicken; I can only stand light-meat.  So the adventure began…

The Adventure

So, after printing the recipe and promptly forgetting to bring it home, I pulled it up online at home and started to set out what I needed.  Only, I didn’t HAVE everything I needed.  Of course.  That’s what I get for skimming recipes without fully reading.  Oh well, ‘make it work’ as Tim Gunn would say, right? Right!

First, rice cooker: filled and ON! (Because, of course, I don’t have any already-cooked rice on hand.  We’re doing well so far on having picked an EASY recipe… right.)

So, the next thing I did was figure out that I would, instead of 4 whole chicken breasts, use 2 breasts and 3 thighs; so both Adam and I would be happy with the meat-type.  Of course it wasn’t already cooked; it was raw and bone-in.

Chopping the now-boneless thigh-meat

Chopping the now-boneless thigh-meat

So a bit of hack-n-slash action later I had my 3 skin-on but boneless thighs and my 2 bone-free breasts all cut into cubes and seasoned with my favorite spices. I also had a nice baggie of those chicken bones to seal up and put in the freezer; perhaps for an upcoming pot of chicken-veggie-starch soup!

So, now to handle the fact that I needed COOKED chicken, not RAW chicken.

I got my new non-stick pan out, added a bit of butter, and tossed in that light-meat.  I sauteed it up on medium-high heat until it was almost entirely done (it had to bake a while too so I left a tiny bit of pink in the center where I could).  Then I put that light-meat into the baking dish on one side; leaving the other side for the dark meat.

Cooking up the first batch of meat: the breast-meat cubes

Cooking up the first batch of meat: the breast-meat cubes

Then I worked up the dark meat cubes.  While that was cooking up I chopped up my broccoli.  I cut off the florets first and put those in a bowl, then chopped up the stems.  Once the dark meat was safely in that baking dish I added more butter to the pan and steamed up the broccoli stems.  Once those were close to done I added the florets since they don’t take as long.

Separated Broccoli (florets and stems), Cheesey Broccoli soup, Mushrooms: all ready for the next step
Separated Broccoli (florets and stems), Cheesey Broccoli soup, Mushrooms: all ready for the next step

While that was cooking up I shredded up the rest of that chunk of cheddar in the fridge which amounted to pretty much the requisite 2 cups; huzzah!

Then I cracked open and drained a can of mushroom slices and layered those on top of the chicken.  The now-slightly-cooked broccoli went on top of that when it was ready.  Then the rice was layered on top of that.

A quick swipe of that one pan and I was ready to meld the liquids/cheesy sauce together.  Only I didn’t have a small can of cream of mushroom soup (which is what I was planning to sub for the cream of chicken that I’ve never really cared for).  SO, I used a can of broccoli-cheese soup instead.  I got that mayo, soup and then cheese and broth all in there and melty and then poured it over the layers.

It wasn’t quite enough sauce to cover everything. Next time I think I’ll add a bit more chicken broth and then actually mix the sauce up with the broccoli and rice so that the rice is nice and soft and none of it gets crispy-baked.

Then, a bit of breadcrumb and mozzerella cheese on top and it was FINALLY ready for its short oven bake.  Whew!

Casserole is packed and ready to head to the warmer climates of inner-oven

Casserole is packed and ready to head to the warmer climates of inner-oven

Prep time for the original recipe: 25 minutes.  MY prep time: 1 hour.  Ugg.

Into the oven for 25 minutes; about 10-15 minutes of resting/cooling and we FINALLY had our “simple” casserole finished.  Eeesh.

Baked casserole, ready for the nomming

Baked casserole, ready for the nomming

The Recipe

The Ingredients

  • 2 medium chicken breasts, boneless (or de-boned); cut into cubes
  • 3 thighs, boneless (or de-boned); cut into cubes
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 huge head of broccoli, sauteed/steamed
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can Broccoli Cheese soup
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup (I would use more next time I think) Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Mozzarella to top the dish

Step-by-Step

  1. Set oven at 350 degrees
  2. If your rice isn’t cooked, get it going
  3. If your chicken isn’t cooked, get that cooked up
  4. Layer chicken in the dish
  5. Put drained mushrooms on the chicken
  6. If your broccoli isn’t cooked, steam/sautee it
  7. Layer it on the chicken
  8. (see how much extra work it is when you don’t check that you have all the ingredients IN THE CORRECT FORM?)
  9. Layer your rice on top
  10. Cook up the soup, mayo, broth and cheddar until the cheese is melted
  11. Pour mix over the stuff layered in the casserole dish (next time though I might just mix the sauce with the rice, broccoli and mushrooms and THEN layer that ALL into the dish on top of the chicken)
  12. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top
  13. Finally, layer on some mozzarella cheese to top it all off
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it looks awesome
  15. Cook for about 10 minutes before cracking into it
  16. Enjoy!
A great blend of flavor and good texture.  Yum!

A great blend of flavor and good texture. Yum!

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8 thoughts on “Thursday Cooking Adventure: Chicken-Broccoli Casserole

  1. I loved this post! No seriously I love broccoli its my FAVORITE veggie I will eat it plain by the mouthful any day! I also love chicken and bread crumbs and well cheese! I mean seriously who doesn’t love cheese! 😀 thanks for sharing this recipe I am definitely going to have to give it a try because it seems great and easy and tasty!

    • ThePowerofMyth: it was a lot more complex since nothing was already made up ahead but if I had leftover chicken and rice it would have been a lot faster. And yes, very very tasty!

  2. Hey April…we’ve decided to go vegetarian for as many meals as possible. Not really any political reason…only that for the past few months whenever we’ve eaten meat, particularly red meat, we all feel really icky afterward…so we decided to listen to our guts and try the veggie route. So far, so good. Anyway, do you think you could do a few meatless entrees? Not to prove a point, but to help me get going with a few standard recipes to have in my rotation. Thanks!

    • Hmmmm I’ll see what I come up with in the next weeks 🙂 Just made some lovely pancakes but those are more breakfast; still…I’ll test some stuff out! 😀

  3. Pingback: TCA: Broccoli-Pork Casserole « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

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