Easy Chicken Casserole Recipe

Chicken casserole is not just a dish; it’s a nostalgic journey back to family gatherings, cozy evenings, and the simple joys of homemade comfort food. Join me as we delve into the heartwarming flavors and timeless appeal of this classic chicken casserole recipe.

Course and Cuisine: Main Course, Comfort Food

Chicken casserole is a quintessential comfort food dish that transcends culinary boundaries. It finds its place on dinner tables across various cuisines, offering a delightful combination of tender chicken, flavorful sauce, and comforting textures.

Nutritional Information and Dietary Considerations

Calories per serving: Approximately 350-400 calories (varies based on portion size and ingredients) Dietary information: Can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free ingredients and dairy-free by substituting dairy products with plant-based alternatives.

Cooking Time: 1 hour Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (such as penne or rotini)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk or dairy-free milk alternative
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: breadcrumbs for topping

Garnishes and Accompaniments:

  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Crusty bread or garlic bread
  • Green salad with vinaigrette dressing

Origin and Cultural Significance:

Chicken casserole, also known as chicken bake or chicken hotdish in some regions, has its roots in American home cooking. It emerged as a convenient way to transform leftover chicken into a wholesome and satisfying meal, often featuring pantry staples like pasta, vegetables, and a creamy sauce. While its origins are humble, chicken casserole has become a beloved comfort food staple in many households.

Chicken casserole
Chicken casserole

Ingredient Substitutions and Variations:

  • Use cooked rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice instead of pasta for a low-carb option.
  • Add diced potatoes or sweet potatoes for added heartiness.
  • Incorporate different herbs and spices like rosemary, oregano, or smoked paprika for flavor variations.

Beverage Pairing:

Chicken casserole pairs well with a range of beverages, including:

  • Crisp white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
  • Light beer such as Lager or Pale Ale
  • Sparkling water with a splash of lemon or lime for a refreshing non-alcoholic option

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Overcooking the casserole, which can lead to dry chicken and mushy textures.
  • Not seasoning the sauce adequately, resulting in bland flavors.
  • Using too much or too little sauce, impacting the overall consistency of the casserole.

Health Benefits of Key Ingredients:

  • Chicken is a lean protein source rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamins B6 and B12, and selenium.
  • Mixed vegetables offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, promoting overall health and well-being.
  • Dairy or dairy-free milk provides calcium and vitamin D, crucial for bone health.

Regional Variations:

While chicken casserole is a popular dish in American cuisine, you may find regional variations across the globe. For instance, French cuisine features “poulet au gratin,” a similar dish with chicken, vegetables, and a creamy sauce baked to golden perfection.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Preheat the Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a casserole dish.
  2. Prepare the Sauce:
    • In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
    • Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
    • Stir in flour to create a roux, then gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk until smooth.
    • Season with dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens, then remove from heat.
  3. Assemble the Casserole:
    • In the greased casserole dish, layer cooked pasta, shredded chicken, and frozen mixed vegetables.
    • Pour the prepared sauce evenly over the ingredients, ensuring everything is coated.
  4. Add Cheese and Bake:
    • Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the casserole.
    • Optionally, sprinkle breadcrumbs for a crispy topping.
    • Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Finish and Serve:
    • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
    • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
    • Serve hot with crusty bread and a side salad.

Troubleshooting:

  • If the casserole is too dry, add a bit more chicken broth or sauce before baking.
  • If the cheese browns too quickly, cover the casserole with foil during baking to prevent over-browning.
  • If the sauce is too thin, you can thicken it further with a cornstarch slurry before pouring it over the casserole ingredients.

Essential Kitchen Tools:

  • Casserole dish or baking pan
  • Saucepan for making the sauce
  • Mixing bowls for combining ingredients
  • Whisk or wooden spoon for stirring
  • Oven mitts for handling hot dishes

Sustainability Practices:

Opt for organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible to support sustainable farming practices. Use reusable containers for storing leftovers and minimize plastic waste.

Flavor Profile and Texture:

Chicken casserole delights with its creamy, savory sauce, tender chicken, al dente pasta, and vibrant vegetables. The melted cheese on top adds a delightful richness, while the breadcrumbs offer a satisfying crunch, creating a harmonious blend of textures and flavors.

Chicken casserole

Chicken Casserole

Chicken casserole is a quintessential comfort food dish that transcends culinary boundaries. It finds its place on dinner tables across various cuisines, offering a delightful combination of tender chicken, flavorful sauce, and comforting textures.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 350 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups cooked chicken shredded or diced
  • 2 cups cooked pasta such as penne or rotini
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables carrots, peas, corn
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk or dairy-free milk alternative
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese cheddar, mozzarella, or your choice
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: breadcrumbs for topping

Instructions
 

Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a casserole dish.

Prepare the Sauce:

  • In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Stir in flour to create a roux, then gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk until smooth.
  • Season with dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens, then remove from heat.

Assemble the Casserole:

  • In the greased casserole dish, layer cooked pasta, shredded chicken, and frozen mixed vegetables.
  • Pour the prepared sauce evenly over the ingredients, ensuring everything is coated.

Add Cheese and Bake:

  • Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the casserole.
  • Optionally, sprinkle breadcrumbs for a crispy topping.
  • Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Finish and Serve:

  • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
  • Serve hot with crusty bread and a side salad
Keyword Chicken Casserole, Chicken Casserole Recipe