I was 23 years old when I first had this casserole and until that evening, I claimed that I didn't like chicken casserole. In fact, I still claim that! Because the average chicken casserole is made with "cream o' something" soup and I just can't go there. This Cheesy Chicken Casserole is totally different and has the power to convert! Read on.
Not only is there no canned soup, there's also few ingredients ... carrots and chicken. The end. Well, except for the sauce and the topping!
Slice the carrots into rounds and steam them until they are just barely off the crisp side.
Cover the chicken with water and let it simmer till it is no longer pink.
The best part is the cheese sauce
Instead of a can of soup, Cheesy Chicken Casserole is made with a cheese sauce.
And the heavens opened and the angels sang!
I use grass-fed butter, white cheddar, gluten-free flour, and homemade chicken broth. I season it with freshly-grated nutmeg, black pepper, and salt.
Then I pour the sauce over the cooked chicken and carrots and mix it all up. This recipe makes a large, rectangular baking dish full! Feel free to minimize it, but also know that these leftovers are really desired!
The next best thing is the breadcrumb topping
You can buy breadcrumbs if you want, but I put some stale homemade sourdough bread in the food processor and give it a whirl. I then let it sit on a baking sheet to dry out.
To make the topping, I mix in some melted butter and herbs, then pile it on top of the chicken and carrots.
It only takes about 30 minutes in the oven at 350 and it becomes a bubbling dish of yumminess that you just can't wait to dig into!
If you wanted to, you could add more vegetables to the casserole. Chopped broccoli, cauliflower, and quartered Brussels sprouts are all good options.
I always, for whatever reason, serve Cheesy Chicken Casserole with green peas. However, steamed broccoli would be great as would Sauteed Garlic Green Beans. We usually also have a salad.
Other recipes you might like:
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
- 8-10 carrots cut into slices (to equal 5 cups)
- 2½-3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
For the cheese sauce
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup flour all-purpose, or gluten-free 1:1
- 2-3 cups chicken broth See notes
- 16 ounces white cheddar cheese shredded
For the topping
- 16 ounces dried bread crumbs See notes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook carrots in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and put in a large mixing bowl. (See notes)
- Cook chicken cubes in salted water until no longer pink. Drain and add to the carrots in the large mixing bowl. (See notes)
For the cheese sauce
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour, whisking continually. Cook for at least a minute, then add the chicken broth, continuing to whisk. When it has thickened, turn the heat off and stir in the shredded cheese until it is melted completely.
- Grate some nutmeg in and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the chicken and carrots in the large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Pour into a 9x13 oven-proof baking dish.
For the topping
- Put the bread crumbs in a bowl. Add the herbs and salt and pepper, then drizzle the melted butter over. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Spread evenly on the chicken, carrot, and cheese sauce mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes till bubbly and golden.
- Serve with buttered English peas, steamed broccoli, or sauteed green beans.
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