So I made this weekend before last, but I had some issues with a sinus infection right afterwards that caused a delay in my writing this.
Sadly this also results in me not quite remembering the exact ingredient amounts for everything, but I will do my best.
So this one is fairly complex. Lots of steps, but in the end I think it’s totally worth it. I ate this for lunch every day for a week when I made it.
2 pounds of chicken breast
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
approximately 3 heads of broccoli (Maybe less if you add in the stems, I do not, they’re gross)
1 large sweet onion
garlic and onion seasoning blend
paprika (sweet or smoked, your choice)
Chedder cheese (I get the preshredded super market kind, use what you like)
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely diced or chrushed
Italian seasoned croutons (or if you’re an onion freak like me, french fried onions)
1 1/3 cup of long grain white rice
2/3rd’s of a cup of orzo pasta
A good frying pan. Do not use non-stick or cast iron. Preferably stainless or carbon steel.
Slice chicken breasts horizontally into fillets. Season with salt, and pepper. I also season with this onion and garlic seasoning blend, but if you don’t have that I recommend seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Mix chicken with seasoning in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan (preferably one with a lid) on medium high heat. while that is melting, roughly chop the onions, then mix them with pinch or two of salt and pepper. Make sure to keep an eye on the butter so that it doesn’t burn.
Once butter is melted, add onions and stir. We want these sauteed to a nice golden brown. About 3/4 of the way through we need to add the garlic and continue stirring and cooking until we have a nice golden brown color. Once cooked, remove to a strainer and drain the frying pan of butter, or reuse a tablespoon if you wish.
Wipe pan out with dry paper towel. Do not clean though. We want the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan to stay there. Return to medium high heat and add about two tablespoons of grapeseed oil. You can also add in a knob of butter or a tablespoon of the butter from the onions if you wish.
A few pieces at a time, sear the 2 larger sides of all the chicken fillets we cut and seasoned earlier. You can cook these all the way through or most of the way through, it won’t matter in the end. once all pieces are cooked, hopefully without outright burning the fond stuck to the bottom of the pan (watch your heat, don’t let it get too high), remove the chicken to a bowl to cool.
Remove the pan from the heat, wipe excess oil out with a paper towel. Return to heat and turn up high. Give it a second to come to temp, then carefully pour in a cup of either water or chicken broth (I used water because I didn’t have chicken broth, still turned out wonderful). Bring the liquid up to a boil whilst scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or something else than can get those stuck bits off the bottom of the pan. Remove liquid to a container and add more liquid until you have 2 cups of liquid. Save this for cooking the rice
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, melt on medium heat. Add orzo and cook until golden brown. Add rice and stir until rice is coated with butter. Do not cook until rice is brown.
Add previously made deglazing liquid to pan with rice and pasta, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for approx. 20mins. Once done, remove to a bowl to cool.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. While that is coming up to temp, trim your broccoli and rinse. Once the water is boiling, add broccoli to water for exactly 1 minute, then remove to an ice bath or a strainer and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. The purpose of this step is to lock in the green color of the broccoli, as well as to make it easier to cook when we put the casserole together.
Place a fair amount of croutons in a plastic bag and seal. Lay bag flat on cutting board and cover with a kitchen rag. Using a large heavy object (frying pan to the rescure) crush the croutons until they are small, but not crumbs. Or if you ended up getting smaller croutons than I did, you can skip this step entirely.
Well. Finally, time to mix everything together.
I start by dicing up all the chicken very fine, or in my case putting it through a food processor. Not grinding it into a paste, but not leaving huge chunks of chicken either. Feel free to adjust for your own taste and preference.
Mix the chicken, rice, and onions very thoroughly. I ended up having more chicken and rice than I needed or could cook at once. So I removed about 40 percent of the chicken and rice mixture to another container to be eaten at a later time. I’d cut down on the initial ingredients to prevent this, but I’m just too lazy to figure out how much to remove.
Now you can add in the cream of chick and cream of mushroom soups, as well as all of the broccoli and then whatever amount of cheese you want. I added almost a whole bag of pre-shredded cheddar cheese from the supermarket, but you can adjust this if you like. You can add in some croutons here if you want, but save most of them for the top of the casserole. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly. I ended up needing a couple of large spoonfulls of mayo to make this mixture nice and wet. You might not.
Once this mix is made, start spooning it into a casserole dish or in my case, two. Make sure to press down as you add more and more of the mix. You want this stuff packed in there to ensure even cooking. Top with croutons, and then finally top with the remaining cheddar cheese. I ended up needing a handful or two from another bag.
Cooking: This is the tricky part, because it can change based on a variety of factors. You might have used more or less of something than I did, you might have a different casserole dish.
But basically, mine took about an hour at 350F (176.6C for anyone who cares) covered with the glass cover that came with the casserole dishes I had. Last 10-15 minutes uncovered to brown the cheese and crouton topping for a nice crunch.
The easy way to tell if yours is done is if the liquid has come out of everything and you see some “boiling” or sizzling on top of the casserole, and if a knife inserted into the middle of the dish for a few seconds comes out clean and hot.
Once cooked, let cool for about 10 minutes covered lightly with aluminum foil, even then this should still be VERY hot on your plate so use caution.
Whew. This was a long one. It looks like more trouble than it actually was to make. It certainly didn’t feel as difficult as it looks on paper.
But goddamn if it wasn’t the best chicken broccoli casserole I’ve tasted.