Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chicken Broccoli Bake {freezer friendly, makes 3+ meals}

Becca here continuing the 'freezer-friendly' series I've been doing on Tuesdays & Thursdays with an update on a the classic chicken + broccoli casserole.  Like the rest of the recipe I've been sharing, it is "cream of ___ soup free" and makes several meals at once.  You can serve the dish over brown rice or quinoa, or just as it is.  If you're not sure if you like curry, or think that you don't, this is a great recipe to try it it, as it just has 1 Tablespoon for the entire recipe (3 casseroles!) to add a hint of flavor complexity (and great color!) without having a strong curry flavor.  The recipe I based mine one is from this cookbook.  Each of the 3 meals make enough for my family to eat generous portions as a main dish for dinner, plus have enough for my husband to take to work for his lunch the next day, so if your family isn't quite as large as mine (2 boys & a girl, Dad, and a pregnant Momma!)  you could easily divide the recipe into four portions instead of three like I've done here.  Enjoy!

Chicken Broccoli Bake
{freezer-friendly, makes 3 casseroles}

12-14 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 whole chickens, or 6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
24 ounces fresh white mushrooms, washed & sliced
3/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon granules (I use a brand without MSG or other weird chemicals, read the labels!)
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
4 cups milk (I use whole)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
6 cups broccoli pieces (I use frozen)
4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (I use sharp)
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
If using freezer bags, 1 gallon & 1 quart per dish (3-4)

Melt butter in a large pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they're soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the flour and immediately begin stirring.  Don't panic, the mixture will be thick, clumpy, and pasty; it's supposed to be!  Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.  Add in curry powder, chicken bouillon, and pepper and stir well. 

Slowly & gradually stir in water and milk, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook, stirring every minute or so, until sauce is smooth and beginning to thicken.  This should take about 10 minutes.  When it has begun to thicken, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Let cool to room temperature.

Divide cooled chicken and broccoli evenly among the gallon freezer bags (or casserole dishes, whatever you're using), and pour cooled sauce into equal portions over each bag.

In a separate container, divide cheese and breadcrumbs evenly into the same number of portions you divided your main casserole ingredients into.  Place chicken/broccoli and cheese/breadcrumbs together (a rubberband works well to hold them together in the freezer), label, and freeze.

To prepare:  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 350.

Place chicken/broccoli mixture into a baking dish (8x8 or 9x11 work well).  Spread evenly, and top with cheese/breadcrumb mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.  Enjoy!!

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