When the kids go back to school, many of us return to the kitchen. Sure, we've cooked during the summer but when the school bell rings each fall, we seem to get more serious about schedules.
#CookClub recipe No. 23 is a Back-to-School Chicken Casserole that can be tailored to many tastes. I made it exactly as the accompanying recipe reads but as I was cooking, I thought of many ways to tinker.
For instance, the bread-cube topping could easily be refrigerated biscuits, making the dish more like a savory cobbler. You can also change up the bread, substituting any crusty variety for the sourdough, even Cuban bread. It's best, though, if you cut the cubes from a whole loaf rather than slices. I might even be tempted to try it with a dried stuffing topping, using a brand like Pepperidge Farm. The recipe suggests baking it in a casserole dish, but it could also be made in individual ramekins.
As far as the filling goes, you can play with it endlessly. Leave out the peas and add shelled edamame. Double up on mushrooms (or don't use them at all). Slice chicken breasts that you've roasted yourself or use a rotisserie bird. Or leave out the chicken all together and turned it into a vegetarian dish by adding more vegetables.
And now for the can of condensed soup. I don't feel bad at all about using it though I know some cooks turn up their noses at a non-scratch sauce. I like the variety and I look for a low-sodium version. It's nice to have the choice between mushroom, celery or chicken.
This is a good go-to dish to have in your pocket throughout the school year. I imagine it might get put in the family's regular rotation.
As always, I am eager to see what the #CookClub will do with it.
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To participate in #CookClub online, the key is to remember #CookClub because that's how you'll tag everything. You'll have two weekends to make the recipe and post a photo on Instagram.
Post photos and comments about the Back-to-School Chicken Casserole by 6 p.m. Aug. 31. Some of the photos and comments will be printed Sept. 3 in the Taste section of the Tampa Bay Times.
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Contact Janet K. Keeler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8586. Follow @RoadEats.
Back-to-School Chicken Casserole
6 tablespoons butter, divided use
4 cups cubed sourdough bread (see note)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moon shapes.
1 celery stalk, trimmed and sliced thinly
4 ounces (about 5 large) button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 (10.75 ounces) can cream of chicken soup (see note)
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Melt four tablespoons of butter and toss with bread cubes, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
In large skillet, melt remaining two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Reduce heat, and saute onions for about 15 minutes. (If you want them caramelized, they will need another 15 minutes.) Add mushrooms, carrots and celery, increase heat back to medium, and cook for about 5 five minutes, until mushrooms have given up all their liquid and reduced in size. Stir in frozen peas.
Add wine or chicken broth and condensed soup. Stir until combined and smooth. Incorporate chicken and let heat through, less than 5 minutes.
Spoon mixture into 9-inch square baking dish (or shape of shallow baking dish). Top with bread cube mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: Substitute crusty Italian bread, ciabatta or even Cuban bread for the sourdough to cut into 1-inch cubes. Also, any kind of condensed cream soup will work here, including celery or mushroom.
Source: Janet K. Keeler, Tampa Bay Times