Thinking up new ideas for work-week lunches is always a challenge. I try to mix it up while keeping it easy, healthy, and portable. I saw Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole recipe last month and decided to make my own version. It was time intensive but worth it for this yummy, one-tupperware-wonder, make ahead lunch!
Domestocrat’s Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice (makes 10 servings)
3.5 lbs. (6.5 breasts) chicken
2 large yellow onions, sauteed and divided in half
9 broccoli crowns (8 cups trimmed florets)
3 cups brown rice
1/2 cup additional cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, whatever you like!)
EVOO, salt, and pepper to your preferences for the chicken, onions, and rice
For the cheese sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. flour
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. black pepper
10 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Start by baking the chicken – rub down with EVOO, salt, and pepper first – at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Truthfully, we only cook meat now according to temperature, and not time. It’s much juicier and tender that way. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. When the chicken has cooled, shred it up with two forks for perfect pulled chicken.
While the chicken is cooking, multitask task with two additional steps:
1) Saute the onions over medium heat. Be sure to divide the batch in half when they are done. Set aside to cool.
2) Cook the rice and then set aside to cool.
When those steps are done there is only two things left to do:
1) Cook the broccoli – rinse, trim, and then boil over high heat for 1-2 minutes, rinse with cold water, and set aside to cool.
2) Make the cheese sauce. Create the roux (cook butter, EVOO, and flour together over medium heat for 2-3 minutes), add the garlic and cook for another minute, pour in the milk and chicken broth and whisk together, add in all of the spices, add in the cheese, and finally add in the reserved caramelized onions. Stir together until smooth.
On to assembly!
In a large casserole dish mix together the chicken, broccoli, rice, and onions.
Cover with the cheese sauce and mix together.
Sprinkle a little bit of extra mozzarella or parmesan cheese over the top and bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serve immediately or portion into 10 tupperware for work-week lunches like I did. This dish was a great balance of healthy with a little indulgence, a perfect midday energy boost, and delicious to boot!