Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole!
This is a healthier version of a chicken broccoli and rice casserole because it does not use canned cream of mushroom or canned cream of chicken soup…. which has lots of sodium and other ingredients that can add to a calorie count. I like to stay away from processed foods. (as much as possible)
That is not to say that I don’t… or will never use processed foods….it is just I am a little pickier now, than I was several years ago. 😉
This casserole is a combination of all my favorites….well, when I think about it….I have a lot of favorites! 😉
The recipe started out many years ago as a broccoli and rice casserole that I used to take to church potlucks. (no chicken)
My grandmother made it for every Thanksgiving (without the chicken) so it has always been a favorite.
Grandmothers just make things taste better don’t they?
Broccoli and Rice Casserole was also a good choice for those occasions at work… where everyone brought a dish for a special lunch.
It was easy to make and it was easy to carry and it was easy to keep warm until lunch time.
I have always loved potlucks.
There are always such a variety of foods to choose from and my plate used to hold a little bit of everything.
Ok, ….sometimes it held a lot of everything. 😉
Anyway, several years ago I had roasted a chicken and had left over chicken for the next day.
Leftover roast chicken is always good for chicken salad, chicken sandwiches and a multitude of other dishes, but I decided to add it to my broccoli and rice casserole.
I like to think of myself as an inventor or a creator…although I am sure someone else had the great idea to combine chicken, rice, broccoli and cheese too.
So over the years, I have added or modified the recipe a little bit, depending on what I have on hand at the time.
I love adding a little kick to the casserole by adding chipotle powder and garlic powder!
However, the basics are the same and the flavor is wonderful.
If you do not have left over roast chicken….you can always get one of those rotisserie chickens at your super market.
The only suggestion I have is to not overcook the rice.
I have to confess, that I have done that a time or two and although it is still good tasting….it kind be kind of mushy. 🙁
Below is the recipe for Chhicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole:
- 2 cups long grain white or brown rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups of chopped chicken, white or dark or both (I like to use a rotisserie chicken from the deli)
- salt and pepper to taste (I use very little salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (you can use skim milk)
- 1/3 cup light sour cream
- 8oz shredded cheddar cheese (you can add more or less)
- 1/2 cup of herb and garlic bread crumbs
- Add the chicken broth to a large sized pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the rice and cover with a lid
- When the rice is almost tender, (remember do not overcook) add the broccoli florets and green onion. (you do not have to stir everything together as the veggies will steam nicely on top of the rice.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the chopped chicken, salt and pepper, chipotle powder, and garlic powder and stir as you would a stir fry for about 5-6 minutes. (This is just to combine the flavors as your chicken is already cooked)
- Remove chicken from the skillet and turning the heat down to low.
- Add butter to the skillet (no need to clean it out) and whisk in the flour allowing the flour to cook out that flour taste.
- Add the milk and blend together much as you would a gravy or a thick sauce
- Since this is more of a white sauce, keep stirring to keep the sauce well blended. (about 5-7 minutes)
- Remove skillet from heat and add about 3/4 of the shredded cheese, stirring to melt the cheese
- Stir in the sour cream and stir until smooth.
- To a lightly greased (I use a non stick spray) 9X13 casserole dish, add the broccoli and rice mixture.
- Pour the cheese/sauce mixture over the broccoli and rice.
- Place in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes
- Remove the casserole from the oven and add the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs to the top.
- Preheat broiler and broil until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are crusty.
- Remove casserole and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
- You can use uncooked chicken, just be sure to cook until all the pink is gone and chicken is well cooked.
- There are times that I have left out the 15-20 minutes in the oven as all the ingredients are already cooked. I just sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and remaining cheese and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the cheese is crusty.
- That is for my hurry-up-I-am-hungry days! 😉