This recipe also appealed to me as it was one of the few that didn't call for process American cheese and/or a condensed cream soup. In fact, I was actually surprised that this one didn't, being a very creamy casserole. Of course, the Easy Chicken Divan recipe on the next page called for both. Plus curry powder. That worried me. Anyway, I went with the classic version:
So, first things first... gather your ingredients. While this was simply assembling a casserole and there's no particular need to rush, getting things ready before you start is an excellent habit to get into.
I used Emmenthal instead of Parmesan for this as I couldn't find Parmesan in the lactose-free brand I usually get for B. But either is fine... I think Parmesan will probably give it more of a kick, while the Emmenthal (often used in fondue) worked well with the sherry and melted beautifully, but was a bit lacking in flavor.
Next, butter or spray a baking dish and spread the broccoli on the bottom.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. I usually let mine cook for a few minutes before adding anything else as it helps get rid of the raw flour taste, but it is not strictly necessary.
When ready, add the chicken broth and whisk the living daylights out of it. Stir often (if not constantly) until it thickens. I dislike runny/watery casseroles so allowed mine to get quite thick.
Then add the sherry and cream and season to taste. Depending on which cheese you use, you may wish to add little (or no) salt at this stage as the cheese will add some of its own.
Pour half of the sauce over the broccoli...
And top with the chicken.
Add the cheese (except for about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) to the saucepan with the remaining sauce and stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Pour the sauce on top of the casserole...
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.
Or until it looks like this:
The picture that accompanied the original recipe in the cookbook:
And here is how mine came out:
The verdict: All in all, very tasty. As I mentioned, I subbed Emmenthal cheese and the flavor was a bit on the flat side. It was rich and cheesy and the sherry worked very well with it, but a little salt was needed the perk it up. The broccoli and chicken were perfectly cooked... tender but not mushy or slimy. The sauce was thick and fondue-like (which is a good thing :), and not as greasy as I feared it might be with all the cheese and butter. Admittedly, there was a small puddle of fat in the dish after serving, but hey, better in the dish than on the plate! ;) I served it with steamed rice, though you could use noodles, potatoes or crusty french bread. A good classic recipe to keep in your arsenal... would be very well suited for potlucks and large family dinners in cooler weather as it makes a lot, and is both fancy and comforting all at once.
Next recipe to be tested will be: Classic Beef Stroganoff. Stay tuned!