Are you looking for a nutritious casserole recipe that doesn’t call for canned soup or bouillon cubes as a base? Never fear! One option is to make your own cream-of soups, but not everyone has the time to make an additional recipe. The other option is much faster: make your own mother sauce.
Okay, fancy French words first. This hearty casserole is made up of a Mornay sauce, which is basically a Béchamel with cheese added. But don’t let the culinary terms intimidate you; it’s just flour, butter, milk, and cheese. If you can whisk, you can make a Mornay sauce. And then you’ll have this delicious, comforting dinner without any additives and preservatives. Give it a try!
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
(Original recipe: Brown Eyed Baker)
6 TBSP butter, divided
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 TBSP all-purpose flour
3 C whole milk
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sage
1 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 C chicken, roasted and cut into chunks
4 C broccoli florets (about 1 pound), uncooked
2 C cooked rice
Optional: shredded cheese and/or bread crumbs to top
Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked down and all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl.
In the same pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
Once all flour and butter has been incorporated and the sauce has thickened, whisk in the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and whisking until completely melted before adding the next handful. Turn off the heat. Add garlic, sage, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gently fold in the chicken, broccoli, rice, and cooked mushrooms. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with optional shredded cheese and/or bread crumbs. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.