You may notice I don’t have a ton of casserole recipes on the blog. That’s really for two reasons: 1) casseroles are supposed to be easy (otherwise you’d just cook all that stuff separately) but many aren't and 2) most call for cream of whatever soup and I’m just not a huge fan of those.
But my friend Catlin loves Cracker Barrel’s Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole and found a recipe for it she can make at home. It sounded pretty good and I’d been thinking about giving it a go. But I kept thinking I wanted some rice in there somewhere. Then it would truly be a one-dish wonder. So I looked online for any recipe that had the broccoli, cheddar, chicken and rice and the only thing I could find were recipes that called for cooked rice. Or recipes that called for browning the chicken first. Ain't nobody got time for that.
So I decided to just go for it with the uncooked rice. I’d add more liquid and hope it and the moisture from the chicken and broccoli would be enough. Also? We've been snowed in and I've been so bored I just needed something to do and if it didn't work out, at least it kept me entertained trying.
And y’all, let me tell you something… this dish is amazeballs. AMAZEBALLS, I tell ya! I ate and ate and ate till I thought I was going to bust a seam. And then I got up in the middle of the night and ate some more. And you know what I’m sitting here eating for lunch right now? The last of the leftovers.
This is stupid easy and requires no par-boiling, browning or pre-cooking. Holla! This one’s going in our regular supper rotation. Fo sho.
For the casserole:
1 cup uncooked rice (white, long-grain)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 10.75-oz. cans condensed cheddar cheese soup* (such as Campbell’s)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large (or 4 small) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 12-oz. bag frozen broccoli florets (or about 3 cups fresh)
For the topping:
2 sleeves butter crackers, crushed (such as Ritz or Town House)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, cheddar soups and 3/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Set aside one cup (not more) of the soup mixture. To the remaining soup mixture, stir in uncooked rice then pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces then season with salt, pepper and garlic. Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice mixture.
Arrange broccoli florets on top of the chicken.
Pour reserved soup mixture evenly over broccoli. Cover dish very tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Consider covering with a double layer of foil to ensure a tight fit - we need all the steam to stay in the dish to ensure everything cooks properly.
Combine crushed crackers, melted butter and garlic and mix well. Remove casserole from oven, remove aluminum foil then sprinkle cracker topping evenly over casserole. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes then serve. Don't skip this step - it's needed for the rice to continue cooking and the casserole to set up properly.
NOTE: If you prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate before cooking you will need to cook for an additional 15 minutes before adding cracker topping.
*Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup is totally different in Canada than it is in the US. I used it last week on vacation and was shocked at the difference. The colour (you like I spelled it like you do, right?), texture and flavour (and again) are different but it should still work. I just can't promise it will be as delicious. Boo. Yo, Campbell's, what's up with that??
This recipe was featured at the Weekend Potluck!