It’s getting cold outside, and the falling leaves are carpeting the grass in multi-hued colors of browns, reds, yellows and oranges… It’s Autumn, and time for some hearty soups, stews, and casseroles.
I played around with this one in the test kitchen, while I was cooking, so when I started, I wasn’t sure what was going to go in it. I settled on chicken and rice (pretty basic), and then added the broccoli with some sautéed mushrooms, and to kick it up, I used an Alfredo sauce with some garlic.
Gather your ingredients.
At this point, I usually show you all the ingredients; however, since I started this recipe with no clear idea of what I was going to put into it... I didn't have a photo of the ingredients.
Cook the rice according to package directions, and shave a few minutes off the cooking time.
Chef’s Note: Standard rice calls for twice the water to the uncooked rice. For this recipe of 1.5 cups of rice, use 1/3 less water.
Cut up the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and reserve.
Chef's Tip: We will leave the broccoli raw, when adding to the casserole. The results are just the perfect amount of crunch.
Clean the mushrooms, remove the stems, and then thinly slice.
Finely dice the onions, and reserve.
I forgot to take a photo of this step.
Add two tablespoons of butter to a skillet over medium high heat.
Add the sliced mushrooms and diced onions, to the pan.
Sauté the mushrooms and onions until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from pan, and reserve.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and then slice into bite-sized pieces.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat, and cook the chicken until most of the pink is gone.
Remove chicken from the pan, and reserve.
Wipe the skillet out, and reserve for the Alfredo sauce.
Chef's Note: You could always do the Alfredo sauce in a nice sauce pan, but why bother... this keeps the kitchen mess down to a minimum.
Place a rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350f (176c).
THE ALFREDO SAUCE
In the skillet add the butter, and melt over medium heat, until the foaming subsides.
Add the minced garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Chef’s Note: Keep the garlic moving, and don’t allow to brown or burn.
Add the cream cheese to the pan, and begin to whisk into the garlic.
Chef's Tip: If you use low-fat cream cheese, it will taste a bit grainy after making the sauce.
Stir using a whisk until the mixture is smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
Chef’s Note: It may look a bit curdled at first, but keep whisking, and it will smooth out nicely.
Add the milk, about a 1/4-cup at a time, and whisk until each addition is fully incorporated.
Chef's Tip: Many Alfredo sauces call for heavy cream, but resist that temptation. The cream will make this dish way too rich.
Add the Parmesan cheese; plus the pepper and salt, to taste
Whisk until fully incorporated.
Add the rice, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and chicken to a large bowl.
Pour the Alfredo sauce over the ingredients, and fold together, until mixed.
Pour the ingredients into a baking dish.
Top with the panko breadcrumbs.
Chef's Note: To kick it up a bit, I added some freshly ground black pepper, and some cayenne to the panko breadcrumbs before adding to the casserole.
Place into the preheated oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.
Chef's Note: Mine went the full 40 minutes, and in the last 10 minutes, I turned the oven temp up to 400f (205c), to brown the top a bit.
Chef's Note: This came out exactly the way that I hoped it would. The dish had just the right amount of seasoning without being too heavy. And it wasn't too wet or too dry.
Serve with a nice side salad, and some crusty French bread. Enjoy.