As soon as I said casserole, I got a chill. I can not remember the last time I made a casserole.
Nowadays a casserole for me would be lasagna, but I really did mean the vegetable, meat, pasta sauced and baked concoction with a crunchy cheesy top.
Why? Well, I spotted a sale on chicken leg quarters and baked the bunch. Now I have 3 pounds of cooked chicken meat I have to find a use for. You can only eat so much chicken salad no matter how good it is, especially on a toasted onion bagel.
I am not grossed out by casseroles, I have made my few, but The Nudge just loves them and when I mentioned I was thinking of making one for dinner, instead of asking me what would be in it, all he wanted to know was if it was going to have a crunchy topping. Are men really that easy?
This is what I did......
I bought a bag of vegetable medley. It's kinda neat and I never knew it existed before. I was thinking frozen but when I walked by the bagged salads I spotted a bag with broccoli & cauliflower florets along with baby carrots. Oh my love, where have you been? This is perfect for a family of two. I roasted a handful with garlic and onions and the carrots went into my pot of veal stock. I lightened up the cheese sauce by using chicken broth instead of milk in the bechamela and only used 2 ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
I bumped up the flavor with a tablespoon of Taco Seasonings, a teaspoon of Bell's Seasonings and smoked paprika.
I will not use melted butter in the crunchy topping, I will use olive oil and Italian Seasonings.
I seemed to use lots of seasonings. Well, casseroles can be very bland and seasonings add lots of great flavor. That's a good thing.
Please pardon the lousy picture but it has been cloudy for days and as soon as Sandy flies directly over our house, I probably will loose my Internet. Right now, this is as good as it gets.
To everyone out there on the east coast, stay dry, stay put (unless the Governor makes mandatory evacs) and stay safe.
Chicken, Orecchiette and Vegetable Casserole
makes 4 servings
- 1 cup uncooked small pasta
- 1 cup mixed roasted vegetables
- 1 chicken leg quarter, roasted and pulled from the bones
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon Taco Seasonings
- 1 teaspoon Bell's Stuffing Seasonings
- 2 cups chicken broth
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup panko crumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
2. In a small saucepan make roux. by melting butter and whisking in flour and seasonings.
3. Add chicken broth and whisk until smooth and bubbling. Add cheddar cheese and remove from heat.
4. Add chicken & vegetables and cover.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbling.
6. Uncover, add bread crumbs mixed with olive oil and cheese and spread as even as you can.
7. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until topping starts to brown.
8. Remove and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
This was really good for a casserole. Chock full of chicken, it had lots of flavor. Do not be thrifty with the seasonings. That is one area us Americans do not excel. That's why we crave BBQ, Tex-Mex and Chinese.