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Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we — your pals from The Hairpin and The Awl — will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations).

Pretend this is Sandra Lee talking: I cannot wait to show you this delicious chicken casserole infused with the most amazingly exotic oriental (???) curry flavorings (???). This beautiful casserole is a spectacular way to sneak vegetables into your family and I just know it will become a favorite at your family dinners. Brycer even loves it. And, would you believe, it’s semi-homemade?!

Back to me talking: I grew up on this casserole and it is The Bomb. Pretty sure the recipe was handed down to me by my mother who got it from her mother who got it from a Campbell’s advertisement that fell out of the newspaper, or something. (That is what you call heritage, people.) Like many casseroles, the sauce base is a can of soup. It also contains mayonnaise. BUT, it also also calls for curry! The mild boring kind that you can get from McCormick, sure, but curry nonetheless. And cheese. It makes no sense, but trust me, it makes all of the sense in your mouth.

Tools

Cutting board and knife, a small mixing bowl and spatula, medium pot (I’m using my 3 1/2 qt Le Creuset dutch oven), medium oval baking dish, two forks, and lots of love.

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders
1 large head of broccoli cut into florets
1 can cream of ______ soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp (roughly, up to you) generic yellow curry powder
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Method

Preheat your oven to 350.

Fill the pot halfway with salted water (usually a tablespoon or so will do) and bring to a boil. Toss in your chicken and boil for roughly ten minutes until the chicken is cooked, skimming off that scummy stuff along the way as it collects on top of the water.

Meanwhile, make your sauce. Your base can be whatever your favorite “cream of” soup is. Haha, as if you have a favorite! What I mean is, I like to up the broccoli flavor, so I use… wait for it… cream of broccoli soup, but mushroom and chicken and celery work, too. Do you! Okay, so mix the soup, mayo, milk, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry in a bowl and set aside.

Here’s an awesome thing about Le Creuset pots: the lids are designed to be inverted on their handles and act as standing vessels for browned meat, or, in our case, boiled chicken, so you don’t have to dirty another dish. When the chicken is cooked, remove it to the inverted lid (or a cutting board) and throw the — wait, don’t literally throw anything! — broccoli florets into the boiling water. While the broccoli cooks, shred the chicken with two forks. Your workstation should look exactly like this:

It should take you about 2 or 3 minutes to shred the chix, which is as long as you want to cook the broccoli (it’ll finish in the oven). Remove the pot from the stove and strain the broccoli.

Lightly spray nonstick spray into a shallow baking dish like this one and put the chicken in the bottom. Pour half of your sauce over it. Now top with the broccoli and cover with the remaining sauce.

Finally, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and cheese and put it in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or so until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is all melty and it smells great and the edges are all brown. Like this:

Eat.

Previously: Chicken Mushroom Casserole for the Lazy Snob.

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