I've been wanting to share this recipe with you all week! This is a chicken casserole recipe and before you close your computer and vow to never read my blog again, please at least read this last post. I know how you feel about chicken casserole. I have the same feelings. Enough with the cream of 'whatever's-in-the-pantry' soup, enough with the rice, enough with the celery. Celery, I firmly believe, was not created to be cooked! A little celery stick with a bit of ranch or something else tasty is OK, but cooked? Naw. . . THIS casserole has none of those things in it and if you'll just read the recipe, you'll want to try it, and if you try it, it will make your basket! Or notebook. . . or software. . . or all three!
(That reminded me of the 'if you give a mouse a cookie'! remember that book?! There's even 'if you give a pig a pancake', and a couple of others now, too! I read those to my kids. )
I made the casserole Tuesday evening and we've been eating leftovers of it on the fly the rest of the week. It's not that the recipe makes that much, but I usually double/triple/whatever because (1) I have a 15-year-old son with a two hollow leg(s) and (2) I like to have extra in the event that we have baseball games five nights in a row! Or six, or seven, or. . . well, you get the picture. I have both a 15-year-old son with hollow legs and we've also had later-than-dinner-time evenings this week, mostly due to baseball! I think the recipe should comfortably feed four. However, if you happen to have a few hollow legs around your house or dinner guests, you might want to beef 'chicken' it up a bit.
In my habit of giving credit where credit is due, I will tell you that I originally got this recipe from a gal I first met in Spain when I was 15 years old! Her initials are JSH and since I have no idea where she is today or what her life is like, I'll protect her identity as much as possible. She probably got it from a Junior League cookbook since she was from Alabama, a Crimson Tide grad and fan, and eschewed all things fine. I didn't get the recipe until I was 23, a young wife building her stash of favorites, but I've made it consistently ever since. Hence, the title of this post: "go-to recipe"!
As usual, this recipe will be peppered with my own comments and tips! (believe it or not—I have no photos! That's what cookin' and eatin' on the fly will do to you!)
- 4-5 carrots, sliced (I usually use 6-8)
- 4 c. cooked chicken breasts (make that 6-8—remember those hollow legs?!) (just trim and cube skinless-boneless chicken breasts, cover with water, and put on the stove to cook on medium heat)
- ¼ c. butter
- ¼ c. flour
- 10.5 oz. chicken broth
- 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 2-oz. jar chopped pimientos, optional (VERY optional: I've NEVER used pimientos in this recipe! I think my family would disown me!)
- ¼ c. butter
- 8 oz. pkg. herb-seasoned stuffing (like Pepperidge Farm. I've also been known to have toasted old bread and created my own topping! Where there's a will, there's a way!)
(If I use the extra carrots and chicken, I double everything else. In my opinion, you can never have too much sauce!)
Cook carrots in salted water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain. (I do this in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.)
Melt butter in a 1 ½-2-qt. pot and add flour, stirring with a whisk. Keep heat on medium or below. Continue whisking and add chicken broth, a little at a time (this will help prevent lumps). When thickened and fully incorporated (that means that the broth is fully mixed with the flour mixture), turn heat off, and add cheese. Remove from stove, stir till cheese is melted, and pour over chicken and carrots. Mix together and pour into a casserole dish.
Mix butter and stir in herb stuffing. Put this on top of the chicken/carrots/cheese sauce mixture, and bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until bubbly, and browning on top. (this week, I put cornbread stuffing mix on top and because I was either too lazy to melt butter or just crunched for time, I just drizzled a bit of olive oil on top. Worked like a charm!)
Serve with green peas and a salad—ALWAYS a salad! Man can't live by bread alone—he must have his roughage! (My dad used to say that 'man can't live by bread alone; he must have his peanut butter with it!")