WHEN YOU HAVE TO EAT…EAT WELL
Well, here we are in the midst of a stay at home order and we still have to eat, don’t we?
So what’s a husband to do? In this case, we are able to have InstaCart do our shopping for us, which is a great way to get what you need without too much interaction. The people at InstaCart have been great, consistantly, and many thanks go out to them.
This Chicken and Broccoli Casserole is a family favorite. It’s in my personal cookbook of things I have made and want to make again. My memory is that it was a recipe shared by my Aunt Jean, but I don’t see that written anywhere. However, my memories of Aunt Jean are so warm, that if it didn’t come from her, I would like to attribute this wonderful slice of heaven to her, anyway.
WHEN THE WOLF IS AT THE DOOR
M.F.K. Fisher wrote the most marvelous cookbookish tome, “How to Cook a Wolf”, in 1942, when supplies were being rationed. The general idea was that when the wolf is at the door, it’s time to cook a wolf. Make the best of what you have on hand.
Making the most of what you’ve got has become the theme of cooking this past few months, and may remain that way in the months to come. In deciding to make this recipe, I found I was missing a few important ingredients. But we make do with what we have, and can still end up with memorable meals, if we don’t substitute with wild abandon.
For instance, it calls for a can of condensed chicken soup. There were almost no soups at the store, but InstaCart did find condensed broccoli soup, and that seemed like it would work. There was also no cream of celery soup, but I had celery at home, and making a condensed cream of celery soup from scratch is a piece of cake. So I did that yesterday, and set it aside for today. One day I’ll write that down.
Plus, the recipe calls for fresh broccoli, but I always use frozen, because it works perfectly, is so much easier, and frankly I like the florets way more than the stems. There was half as much as I wanted, but I did with what I had. Oh, and we didn’t have enough mayonnaise, so I used Miracle Whip, which was in the fridge just wanting to be a part of something for once. It worked fine, and it was only later that I realized I could have easily made mayonnaise from scratch. Maybe next time.
THE MIXING OF THE FLAVORS, AND PREP OF THE GOOD STUFF
First off, mix all that stuff up that is gonna’ give it that memorable flavor. In a mixing bowl pour the two cans of soup, the mayonnaise, Tabasco and lemon juice. Then stir that all up with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer recognizable.
Cut up your chicken breasts. It calls for four, you could use three…but four is more and more is better. I sliced the breasts in half and then cut the pieces on a bias. I cooked them in batches (so as not to crowd the pan) in some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons), sprinkling them with pepper once they got in the pan, and flipping them until the pieces were cooked through. Then onto the next batch.
While you’re doing that you can pop that broccoli in the microwave and cook them so they will be ready when you need them.
When that’s done, you melt the butter in a small pot, take it o! the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs until they are completely coated with the butter, which will give them a really nice brown crunchiness when it all comes out of the oven.
THE PUTTING OF IT TOGETHER
Take your handy 9×13” casserole dish, spray it with some PAM cooking spray, or
butter if you prefer, and let’s start the layering.
Arrange the broccoli all over the bottom of the dish, and then cover it with the chicken that you have cooked. It will start to look really good. Pour the soup mixture all over the chicken and broccoli, spreading it to cover it the best you can. It won’t look as good anymore, but looks are deceiving because once you spread the shredded cheese over the top, and then cover the cheese with those buttered breadcrumbs, it turns into something truly special.
Then slide it in your pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the breadcrumbs on the top look so good that you can’t stand to leave it in the oven another minute.
Take it out and let it cool for a few minutes before you dig into it. You will have some left over if you’re not serving six people.
And that’s good, because it’s even better the next day.
A family recipe that will surprise you with a little curry flavor.
- 1 large bag of frozen broccoli – do not skimp
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Pepper to taste
- 1 can condensed Campbell’s cream of chicken soup
- 1 can condensed Campbell’s cream of Celery soup
- 1 cup mayonnaise – half that amount if you like
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon curry powder
- 3 or more shakes of Tabasco
- 1 heaping cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese that you shred
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons of butter
- Pam for the casserole dish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil to cook chicken
- Preheat the over to 350°.
- Cook the broccoli in the microwave and drain, if necessary.
- Slice the chicken breasts in half and then into bite sized pieces.
- Sauté chicken in pan – doing only a little at a time so that it will brown.
- Sprinkle one side with pepper as they cook, but do not add any salt as the recipe is salty enough with the soups.
- Remove to a plate as the batches are done.
- In a bowl stir the soups, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Tabasco, and curry powder together until thoroughly mixed.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan, remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs until they are coated with butter.
- Spray your baking dish with Pam, or coat with more butter, and then layer the casserole in this order from bottom to top:
- Broccoli, chicken, mixed wet ingredients, cheese, buttered bread crumbs.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling hot. Let it sit for a few minutes before you dig in, or you will burn your mouth and be going “Hassafrassahassahassa” at the table.
- Prep Time: 40
- Cook Time: 45
- Category: Casseroles