Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recipe for Chicken Casserole with Mushroom, Peas and Homemade Stuffing

I don't make a lot of casseroles and I definitely try to avoid canned ingredients (except for things like tomato sauce/paste, beans, etc.). But I love this casserole! It's a lighter, healthier version of good ol' comfort food. I love that it doesn't use canned ingredients - no cream of anything soup - and you can control the sodium content of your dinner! Plus it tastes delicious. I found this recipe maybe 10 days ago (on one of my new favorite food blogs) and I've already made it twice. Once for us and then just the other night for a dear friend who recently had a baby. I doubled the recipe (so easy to do with this one!) and brought half to her family.

It's a family-friendly, healthy casserole - easy to transport, great for leftovers and I think it would probably even freeze well (freeze at step 5 then when you are ready you can thaw and continue with step 6?).

source: elly says opa! (if you haven't ventured over to elly's blog yet, do it! I love her recipes!)
serves: 4

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth, divided (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/2 cup milk (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/4 cup grated (about 2 oz.) parmesan cheese
1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken breast**
1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups cubed, staled bread (left out overnight) or unseasoned bread cubes
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
scant 1/4 tsp. ground sage
scant 1/4 tsp. ground marjoram

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray a 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish.

2. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add onions. Cook until onions are mostly translucent (they will continue cooking with the mushrooms so you don't want them to be too cooked yet!).

3. Add the mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have lost most of their moisture. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

4. Stir in the flour. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown. Slowly add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and the milk. Whisk out any flour clumps and continue to simmer until the mixture bubbles slightly and begins to thicken, just coating the back of a spoon. Stir in the chicken and the peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the mixture into the caserole dish. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

6. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of broth with the staled bread and the herbs. Place the mixture on top of the chicken mixture. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

* I don't often use bay leaves so I didn't know this: leave the bay leaf in through the whole baking process. The first time I made this casserole, I removed the leaf when I transferred to my baking dish. Having had it both ways, I can tell you the bay leaf adds a ton of flavor during baking!!

** to cook your chicken breast, you can roast, bake or poach it. Or try putting it in your slow cooker, cover with water or chicken broth and cook on low for 8 hours - then shred! The slow cooker leaves it so moist and tender, and it shreds so easily.

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