Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Simple Chicken Casserole



Chicken casserole is a staple in my house. I do several variations, but my husband's is the most simplistic one there is! A lot of Southern cooks make casseroles with cream based soups, but I, personally, do not like cream soups. I think that once you try this recipe, you will understand the difference in flavor.
This casserole is creamy, full of chicken, and topped with homemade stuffing on top, slightly crisp and golden brown. I made this actual casserole for my husband as I was having to go away on a work related trip so that he would have something delicious for dinner at night. This meal keeps well in the refrigerator and can even be made ahead and then baked on the night of serving.

Ingredients:
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 Roasting Chicken (3 Pounds)
6 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
FOR THE CREAM FILLING
1/2 Cup Button Mushrooms, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Skim Milk
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
FOR THE TOPPING
8 Cups Plain Bread Cubes
2 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine

Preheat Oven Temperature: 425 degrees
1. In a large stock pot, place the chicken, breast side down, and cover with water. Season with salt and pepper and then cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 45 minutes. After the chicken is cooked, remove to a baking sheet to cool. Set the broth aside.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter/margarine over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the pan to create the base for the sauce. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This step eliminates the flour taste. Using a whisk, continuously stir while adding in the reserved broth and milk. Whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low. Seasoning with pepper and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. While the sauce cooks, being to shred the chicken. Use your hands to remove and skin and fat. Shred the chicken into thin strips. Place in a mixing bowl.
4. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to combine.
5. In another large bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping. Carefully stir to thoroughly coat the bread cubes with the seasoning and liquid.
6. Spread the chicken and sauce mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with the bread mixture. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the remaining butter/margarine.
7. Place, uncovered, in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. You only want to bake until bubbling and golden on top.
8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

NOTE: I like to make my own bread cubes. For this recipe, I used half a loaf of wheat bread that was beginning to go stale. Simply cut into cubes and then toast in the oven for 10 minutes on 350 degrees, stirring occasionally. 

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