Not Your Mom’s Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Remember how your mom used to make that chicken, broccoli, and Campbell’s cream of mushroom casserole? Remember how delicious it was? A comfort food classic!

Well, I’ve updated it with fresher ingredients, and I think you’ll like the result. While my recipe is a little more involved than throwing canned chicken, frozen broccoli, and canned soup into a casserole dish, it’s really very easy. This one doesn’t dirty many dishes, and makes enough for some leftovers for your lunch (unless you have several kids!). There are a few steps, but the prep time is pretty minimal, making this a great weeknight recipe. Hey, there’s a reason Mom made it so often! And it’s just as satisfying as you remember, without all the salt!

2 large chicken breasts
~1 tsp olive oil
2 cups uncooked brown rice
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 one white onion, finely diced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
~1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite-size pieces
4 heaping Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 325°. On a cookie sheet, lay out a large piece of foil. Place chicken breasts on the foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Tent chicken in the foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, tender, and juicy.

2. Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients as above. Start by combining the rice and approximately three and a half cups of lukewarm water in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Allow the rice to cook for ten to twelve minutes, until it’s done and almost all of the water has cooked off.

3. While the rice is cooking, begin the vegetables. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook for approximately ten minutes, until fragrant. Add balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and celery salt, and stir. Continue cooking for about one or two more minutes, then add chicken broth and stir again. Finally, add the broccoli. Cook for approximately five minutes, or until broccoli is bright green but still somewhat firm.

4. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the oven. Once it’s done, allow it to cool slightly. Lightly grease a 3 quart baking dish (I use a rectangular Pyrex dish) with olive oil or butter. Cut the chicken into workable pieces, and finish shredding it into rough chunks with your hands, putting the pieces directly into your baking dish.

5. When the rice is done, drain any excess liquid and add the rice to the casserole dish with the chicken. Next, mix in the vegetables and any broth in their pan. Add yogurt, cream, pecans, and more salt and/or pepper, if desired. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon, then use the back side to press the mixture down in the dish to form a casserole of even depth.

6. Place the whole dish back into the oven and bake at 325° for a further 20 minutes. Remove from oven very carefully, and allow to cool on the stove top for about three to five minutes, then serve. Garnish with parsley, sage, sour cream, and/or cheese, if desired.

Serves 6.

Also makes excellent leftovers—just microwave and stir!

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