Wish Upon A Dish: Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

January 17, 2012

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This dish has been on the menu for over a week now. It's about time I finally made it, don't ya think?

This is a lightened up version of what can be a disappointing mess of overcooked broccoli, dry chicken and a bland, gloppy (I just love that word) cheese sauce. Healthy, tasty and diabetic friendly, it's a win win every time.

No soup in this casserole, don't even go there. This is a meat and vegetable toss with a light sauce and then sprinkled with Parma cheese and toasted bread crumbs and quickly kissed in a hot oven until GB&D.
Microwaving the broccoli wrapped in a wet paper towel keeps it crisp-tender and is how I always steam my broccoli (one pot Momma here, thank you).
I decided that individual gratin dishes would be the best way to go and I think a crostini of toasted garlic bread on the bottom will bring this 'over-the-top' good.
You could make a side of brown rice, bulgur or quinoa but I am in a salad mood lately.

Since chicken breasts can be bland, I infused more flavor into this dish by using a marinade of the same ingredients. You only need an hour for this so while you are preparing the crostini, steaming the broccoli and measuring the sauce ingredients, you can marinade the chicken. I would cut the chicken into pieces and then pop it back into the freezer bag with the marinade.

Away we go.....

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Serves 4

Chicken Marinade:
* 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" slices
* salt & pepper
* 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon minced shallot, onion or shallot
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1 tablespoon sherry
* 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Put all ingredients into a zip bag and marinade for minimum of one hour up to overnight in the fridge. Remove 15 minutes before cooking, drain marinade and pat dry with paper towels.

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter sub) divided
* 1 onion, chopped fine, divided
* 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
* 1/2 cup all purpose flour (or 2 teaspoons cornstarch)
* 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup dry sherry
* 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, florets chopped, stems peeled and sliced thin
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 oz Provolone cheese, grated (you can use any melting, flavorful cheese)

Bread Crumb/Cheese Topping:
* 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* salt & pepper
* olive oil

1. In small non-stick pan, heat olive oil and when shimmering, add bread crumbs, salt & pepper. Toast, stirring constantly until golden brown. Remove from heat, cool and add cheese.
2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400°. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to plate.
3. Add remaining butter, onion and carrot to empty skillet and cook over medium heat until onion and carrot begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour (or cornstarch), stir to combine, then whisk in broth, cream and sherry and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Return chicken to skillet with any accumulated juices, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
4. Butter a slice of bread with olive oil or butter and toast in the oven until crispy crunchy. Place in bottom of gratin dish and transfer chicken to dish.
5. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli, wrapped in a wet paper towel for 2-4 minutes. Add broccoli and 1 cup cheese to skillet. Season with salt & pepper and pour broccoli mixture over chicken. Sprinkle crumb topping over top and bake in oven until heated through, 3-5 minutes the most. Watch it carefully, the bread crumbs are already toasted (I know from experience, I had to scrape a few burned crumbs off ours.
Serve hot.

Review: This was excellent. I will never bake a broccoli and chicken casserole again. The chicken was tender, moist and the sauce was just a light coating so you could taste all the vegetables and flavors. The best thing of all was, the broccoli remained al dente and I wasn't eating another plate of pasta.

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Kathy~Sweet Bird Designs said...

Looks wonderful - I like that it doesn't have any canned soups in it. I'm always looking for new casseroles to make since I often bring meals over to my parents. I think they'll like this one and my mom will just have to warm it up in the oven :)

Mary said...

Susan, this sounds delicious. It is a perfect winter casserole and I love your recipe. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary