You know how there are certain foods that almost everyone loves? Pizza is a good example. I don't know if I have ever met someone who can't stand pizza. Ice cream is another one. Who wouldn't enjoy a cold bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day?
The topic of this column might come close to qualifying for the same category. I am referring to the often loved yet sometimes looked down upon, classic casserole. Maybe sharing the history of the casserole can begin the rehabilitation process.
The historic origin of the casserole is French. The word “casserole” is the French word for “sauce pan.” It is a large and deep sauce pan used to bake a meal in the oven and then serve the dish out of the same container.
Originally, pottery containers were used for this dish. Here in the states, 1950's technology brought us lightweight metal and oven usable glassware, increasing the convenience of the
modern day casserole. In my opinion, the casserole began its downward “PR” spiral when condensed soups were used in the place of the classic roux.
Today's recipe uses smoked chicken breast and a classic roux. It's flavors are subtle and classy, compared to the over-salted flavor of casseroles using condensed soup as the base.
You can view the instructional video we made by visiting our YouTube channel -- www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay. Type “smoked chicken casserole” into the “search video” window.
• Two smoked chicken breasts, cubed
• Two cups of your favorite shredded cheese
• 2 ½ cups of chicken stock
• Four cups steamed broccoli flowerets
• Four cups of cooked brown rice (you can use white rice as well)
• Three large shallots – chopped. (two chopped onions can be substituted)
• One cup chopped almonds
• ½ stick of real (unsalted) butter
• Four Tbs white flour
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• salt and pepper to taste
Toast the almonds over medium heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and saute' the shallots over medium heat until translucent. Slowly stir in the flour making sure no lumps remain.
Cook for two to three minutes. Slowly add one cup of chicken stock and stir over heat. As it thickens, add the second cup of stock while stirring. Add ½ cup and stir. It should have a smooth, soupy consistency. Add the cajun pepper and salt and pepper to taste. (Remember, you can always add salt at
the table, so do not over-salt.) This roux will take 5 to 7 minutes to make.
Place the rice, chicken, broccoli and cheese in a large bowl. Pour the shallot roux over the dish. With a large spoon, carefully mix to make sure all ingredients are well coated and fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a large greased casserole dish and spread out evenly. Place the dish into the oven, which has been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes or so, or until you see slight bubbling around
the edges. Serve with crusty bread.
Dave Lobeck, of Sellersburg, Ind., is a financial adviser, barbecue chef and Kansas City Barbecue Society judge. He writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.