Chicken Casserole with Cruciferous Vegatables and Carrots
Ok, so the name isn’t really all the catchy, but the finished product is. This recipe is adapted from the Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole by Ree Drummond, but adds chicken, additional vegetables, different cheese, and changes the proportions for the sauce.
2 lbs chicken thighs (Costco now sells organic chicken, so I use that)
1 lb broccoli florets, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head cauliflower, same
10 large Brussels sprouts, quartered
6 carrots, chopped
2 brown onions, diced
I head garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
1 jalapeno pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (or other cheese with a bite, like cotija)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
This recipe calls for four different vegetable choices: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and carrots. You can use all four, or any combination of 2 or 3, which makes this a great recipe to use when you have some extra vegetables on hand and want to do something yummy with them.
Once all your vegetables are bite-sized, steam them until just barely cooked, 3-5 minutes.
The secret to this recipe is for the vegetables not to overcook. While the vegetables are steaming, cook the chicken using what ever method you prefer, or, if you are having a busy night, buy it pre-cooked. I grilled mine in a non-stick pan.
Once the vegetables are steamed, set them aside. Ditto with the chicken once it is cooked.
Now take your diced onions, diced jalapeno and chopped garlic and sauté it all for 5-10 minutes in olive oil. I added the oil to the chicken juices that were still in the pan for some added flavor.
Add 1/2 cup flour and stir until the onion mixture is coated. Now start pouring the broth into the pan, and stir. Once it is all combined, let it cook on low for 5-7 minutes. Then add the whipped cream cheese (or room temperature block cream cheese) and stir until dissolved into the mixture. Taste the mixture and add some salt, pepper and paprika to taste — I used about 1 tsp of salt, a tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 of tablespoon of pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with more broth or some of the water from the steaming of the vegetables (here in California that is a good use of water – I used the rest of it for the patio plants). You want it to be the consistency of prepared cream of mushroom soup, but the recipe is very forgiving if it is thinned out too much.
Now you are ready to assemble the casserole. First layer is vegetables. Followed by diced chicken (dice it after the chicken has rested for awhile). Followed by sauce, and then cheese. Repeat. The original recipe calls for 2 layers, but I sometimes do 3.
Melt the butter in the microwave (mine takes a minute, but I think it is old and slow so watch yours carefully and take it out as the last bit just melts). Pour the breadcrumbs into the melted butter and mix.
Sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs on top of the casserole and bake for 35 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let set for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
There will be some sauce accumulation at the bottom of the casserole pan — be sure to distribute it over each serving to give it some extra moistness.