Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping [GF]: Remaking an Old Standby

I imagine most families in America have some version of this soup-mix classic in their recipe rotation, or at least in their distant memory.  Casseroles did not originate in the U.S., but the method of using canned cream soups to bind a hodgepodge of ingredients together in one vessel, is certainly on us.  In the 1930s, The Campbell Soup Company began producing Cream of Mushroom soup, leading to a host of new, quick-fix family meals for home cooks.

Campbell’s® Ready To Serve Cream Of Mushroom Soup: water, mushrooms, cream (milk), vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed, canola and/or soybean), modified food starch, contains less than 2 % of: bleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, monosodium glutamate, soy protein concentrate, yeast extract, spice extract, dehydrated garlic, oleoresin paprika.

Thanksgiving green beans, canned tuna, chicken, rice, tortillas, has all been subject to the cream sauce short cut of creamed soups. Throw French’s Fried Onions on top and dinner is served all across the country.  I remember my mom serving it over cooked rice as a side dish and trust me, she knew how to make good gravy, but it was quick and easy.  When schedules are maxed, we have all turned to convenience items like this to get something on the table.

The pity is, generations raised on convenience foods lose the knowledge, skill, and taste for preparing real, whole foods. Butter, cream, homemade stock is abandoned for processed alternatives with sugar, MSG, bad oils, and preservatives.  A couple of years ago, I discovered Emeril’s Green Bean Casserole with a homemade mushroom sauce and I was ruined, never to return to the recipe on the can of French’s onions again.

With resolve to eliminate processed foods from our diet and accommodate our daughter’s sensitivity to gluten, I was determined to make Chicken Broccoli Casserole from scratch.  That’s right, no canned soup or pre-made onions, just fresh ingredients creating a satisfying dinner from a single dish.  Our original recipe includes Paul Prudhomme Poultry Magic to season the chicken, which is a great line of seasonings.  However, it is not available in all stores, so part of the remake includes a mix of spices common in most kitchens.

Oh, and the fried onions … be sure to make a few extra for snacking, and (confession) don’t start hungry or you’ll eat too many before you can get them on the casserole.  So here it is, Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping, also gluten-free—a warm, savory, crispy, creamy, and satisfying, one-dish meal; perfect for fall and winter evenings.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping

Serves: 6
For the Onion Topping:
peanut oil or coconut oil — for frying
1       large  sweet yellow onion — sliced into rings
1       tablespoon  Chipotle Tabasco
1       tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
1       tablespoon  Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free)
1/2     cup  King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Mix or whole wheat flour
1/4     cup  cornstarch
1/2     teaspoon  baking powder, if using GF flour
salt

For the Mushroom Sauce:
4       tablespoons  butter
1/2     large  sweet yellow onion — chopped fine
1/2     cup  celery — chopped fine
6       large cloves  garlic — minced
8       ounces  mushrooms — wiped clean and ends trimmed, sliced
1/4     teaspoon  pepper
1/2     teaspoon  salt
2       tablespoons  sweet rice flour or 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2  cups  chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
1/2     cup  heavy cream

For the rest of the filling:
1       cup  brown rice, uncooked
8      cups  broccoli (about 1 1/4 lbs) — cut into small florets, blanched
2      tablespoons  butter
3-4  large  boneless and skinless chicken breasts — cut into 1″ cubes
1      teaspoon  granulated garlic
1      teaspoon  onion powder
1      teaspoon  oregano
1      teaspoon  thyme
1      teaspoon  paprika
1/2    teaspoon  coriander
1/2    teaspoon  salt
1/2    teaspoon  pepper
1/4    teaspoon  cayenne
pinch  nutmeg
2      cups  extra sharp cheddar cheese — grated
Note: To save a step, the spice mix for the filling can be substituted with 2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme Poultry Magic

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter and set aside.

Cook the rice according to package directions. 1 cup of uncooked rice should yield 3 cups cooks rice. Once rice is done, fluff and set aside to cool.  Blanch prepared broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, and rinse with cold water-or-plunge in water bath and drain again; set aside to cool.

For the Onion Topping:
Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Mix Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce together. Using your hands, combine the onion rings with the sauce in a mixing bowl and toss thoroughly until the onions are coated with the sauce. Mix GF flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a shallow bowl until well blended.  Dredge the onion rings in the flour to coat (gently tap off any excess flour).

Heat 1/2 inch of peanut oil in a deep skillet until hot enough that onions sizzle, place onion rings one at a time in skillet, but not touching. Fry until onion rings are lightly golden on each side, about 30 seconds. (Since the onions will bake in the oven, you do not want them to brown too much, only set the coating). Transfer to a paper towel lined platter to drain and season onion rings with salt. Set aside. (The onions that are darker brown are great for snacking 🙂 )

For the Mushroom Sauce:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over med heat and cook the chopped onions and celery until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are soft and golden brown and have released their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the sweet rice flour, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock and cream and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover with a lid.

For the rest of the filling:
Mix remaining seasonings together in a small bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, place cubed chicken in the skillet and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Cook over medium heat until chicken is just cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix the rice, broccoli, chicken, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese together in a large mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Mix in cream sauce until incorporated. Pour into a prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with fried onion rings. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the onion rings are golden brown.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Mom Trends Friday Food
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

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11 responses to “Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping [GF]: Remaking an Old Standby

  1. What a great, healthy alternative to that “other” casserole staple of our holiday tables! And you’re right, I had better have a full stomach before I start the onion rings or they just might “get lost” and never make it to the table. 😉

  2. Ok this is the second chicken broccoli, and cheese recipe I have seen today and my taste buds are crying out feed me. Fantastic sounding casserole!

  3. Ha, green bean casserole is evil. But I love this homemade casserole and those onions!

  4. Wow just by the looks of it makes me already hungry. The flavourss are well represented in the photo and that onion is perfectly fried.

  5. I love casseroles. They’re a great reminder of home. To be honest, I never even thought about making a casserole completely from scratch. Who knew it was even possible? Something to try in the future for an even more delectable treat!

  6. Oh WOW! I can’t believe you made this classic from scratch! Growing up broccoli casserole with cream of mushroom soup was a staple, but I haven’t made it in years. Your recipes for each component looks perfect! And YES – I would definitely have to make lots of extra onions! 🙂 Great job!

  7. I love broccoli in just about any dish, so this Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping recipe is definitely up my alley. Very nice post

  8. I really enjoy your recipes each week! We don’t have to do GF, but try to eliminate some of the processed foods if possible. You give me so many ideas to try!

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  9. This looks so good and I love fried onions and paprika!

  10. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/fat-tuesday-october-25-2011/

    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/grain-free-real-food-linky-carnival/

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