Sunday, November 22, 2009

Almond Chicken with Broccoli and Cream Sauce Casserole

The bf and I ate takeout all weekend, and yummy as that was, I thought I'd cook tonight. Looking for something new, I cracked open The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, by Beatrice Ojakangas. Well-acquainted with my love of casseroles, the bf bought it for me last Christmas. I decided to try Almond Chicken with Broccoli and Cream Sauce. This dish is a little more complicated than my usual casseroles, probably because Beatrice doesn't believe in using condensed soup for the sauce. She claims the whole soup thing became popular in the 1950s when busy women were looking for short-cuts. Frankly, this makes no sense to me; weren't most women in the 1950s housewives with nothing but time? Anyway, the point is, part of Beatrice's recipes always entail making the sauce from scratch. But I didn't mind too much; as you all know, I like a good challenge :) So here's the how-to of it all, including Beatrice's engaging little intro:

"This make-ahead casserole is perfect for easy entertaining. Chicken breasts bathed with a lemon sherry cream sauce are topped with crunchy cornflakes and almonds. Add sliced tomatoes and a green salad to the menu. A cake topped with fresh strawberries would be a lovely dessert."


3 tablespoons butter
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used 3)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 large bunch fresh broccoli
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cooking sherry
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup cornflakes
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9" x 13" Pyrex casserole dish.

Place the chicken breasts into a skillet and add the 2 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside in the water.

Put the broccoli into a saucepan, add water to cover, and heat to boiling. Continue boiling for 6-8 minutes, until just tender. Drain and arrange the broccoli in a single layer in the dish.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and strain the broth. Lay the chicken over the broccoli. Return the strained broth to the pan and boil until reduced to one cup.

In a saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons butter and stir in the flour. Whisk in the reduced broth and the milk and cook until the sauce is thickened. Whisk in the sherry, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and tarragon. Fold in the whipped cream and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Spread the sauce over the chicken and top with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Toss the cornflakes in melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole. Top with the almonds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through and the top of the casserole is lightly browned.

The bf and I just finished eating this for dinner. And I have to say . . . it wasn't that good. At least that's my verdict; according to the bf, it was "very tasty." I thought that the sauce was a little too sweet, probably owing to the sherry and tarragon. Overall, it was one of those recipes where you put in a lot more than you get out. As in, I would've been much happier using the quick and easy canned soup (because a little MSG never hurt anyone. Not that there's MSG in canned soup. But there's something unhealthy in it that sparked Beatrice's acute disapproval.) So that's that. Maybe the next "best casserole ever" I try will be a little more worthy of its name.

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