Something tells me you all have eaten a chicken and broccoli casserole at some point in your life.
It’s an American classic; sharing that category with the likes of macaroni and cheese, beef stroganoff, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and sloppy joes. I’m convinced that a recipe for chicken and broccoli must have been included in every cookbook published in the 80’s and then swapped on umpteen million recipe cards, because every mom I knew had her own version of it, including my own.
If someone was sick, we took them a chicken and broccoli casserole. If someone had a death in the family, we took them a chicken and broccoli casserole. If someone had a baby, we took them a chicken and broccoli casserole. If someone lost their dog, or even their mind, we took them a chicken and broccoli casserole. It’s comfort food at its finest.
And it also happens to be one of my favorites. There is something incredibly nostalgic about this dish that instantly puts a smile on my face. It’s cheesy, it’s rich, and it incorporates all the major food groups into one convenient dish.
Problem is, almost every recipe for chicken and broccoli casserole I’ve ever come across calls for a can of cream of _______ (chicken, mushroom, celery, whatever). Call me crazy, but processed canned foods skeeve me out. I generally try to avoid all things containing dehydrated, mechanically separated anything or any ingredient I cannot pronounce.
Because I cannot imagine life without chicken and broccoli casserole, and because I can no longer stomach cream of _______, I set out to create a chicken and broccoli casserole that omitted that one key ingredient but maintained the classic, comforting chicken and broccoli casserole flavor. I’m all about setting lofty, life changing, earth shattering goals for myself.
I’ll let you be the judge of whether I achieved my goal or not.
I will say that Scott devoured it (we’re talking 5/6ths of the casserole in one sitting) and commented that he liked it better than the original version of the casserole because it’s not quite as soupy. And, because he’s my only judge, I think I’ll mark this one up as a success.
Not Your Momma’s Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
8 boneless chicken thighs (can substitute breasts)
2 pounds broccoli florets
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3/4 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup light Mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole milk (or cream)
2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoon of minced garlic, divided
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of shredded yellow cheddar cheese (I used hoop cheese from Costco)
1 cup of shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (I used Coastal from Costco)
15 whole grain crackers crushed (I used Costco Ancient Grain Crackers)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add chicken to a large pot and fill with water until chicken is completely submerged. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of garlic and stir. Bring chicken to a boil and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, spread broccoli on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Roast broccoli in oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees after you remove broccoli. In a medium size bowl, add eggs and beat well. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, milk, remaining garlic and salt, nutmeg, and pepper and mix well. Remove chicken from pot, shred and add to a large bowl. Add cooked broccoli and mix well, allowing to cool for 5-10 minutes. Add a little over 1/2 of the yellow cheddar and 1/2 of the white cheddar to chicken and broccoli together with the egg mixture. Stir well and pour into a greased 9×12 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and crushed crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Tip: I doubled the recipe and used four 8×8 casserole dishes instead of 9x12s. The 8×8 is more suitable for two people. I gave one to my brother and his wife who recently had a baby and froze the other three for nights that I couldn’t possibly force myself into the kitchen if I tried (other than to get a glass of wine of course).