CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
Twenty years ago, I assisted an owner from Tulsa, Oklahoma deliver his 57' Chris Craft Constellation down the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers to Destin, Florida.
At one of our stops, Vicksberg, Mississippi, we tied up to the backside of a faux riverboat casino for some rest and relaxation. As I explored Vicksberg, I found myself at a large antebellum rooming house that held dinner for their tenants and those who walked up their steps. I was welcomed in and seated at a huge circular table with seating for 10-12. In the center of the table was a large Lazy Susan; a round turntable loading with various dishes. Fried chicken, greens, okra, banana pudding. Thank goodness it only takes three digits to call the paramedics!
Good home-style southern cooking, there was a casserole that I just couldn't get enough of. After dinner, I approached the owner of the house who was also the cook. But no matter how much I pleaded for the recipe, she just wouldn't give it up (I can relate what with my famous mini-muffin recipe). But I was undeterred. After some trial and error, I created my own casserole which has satisfied many a guest over the years.
Casseroles are a terrific way to create a complete meal in just one dish.
3 boneless, skinless chicken beasts
4 cups broccoli flowerets
1 26 oz can of condensed creme of chicken soup
1 10 ounce can of shoepeg corn
2 ½ cups cornbread stuffing mix
3 lemons, juiced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Marjoram
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
(Optional) Turkey or andouille sausage
Juice the three lemons. In a mixing bowl, whisk together juice with the EVVO and crushed garlic. Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in a quart sized freezer bag and flatten with a rolling pin. Cut chicken into 1-2 inch chunks and marinate in the lemon-garlic for 15 minutes. Strain chicken in a colander and toss in the marjoram. Pre-heat oven to 350°
While waiting on the oven, fry chicken in a hot skillet or wok. For this dish, I like season the skillet with hardwood smoked bacon for added flavor. Some stores sell “bacon ends and pieces” at half the price premium thick cut bacon; often coming from the same packers. Because the chicken absorbed the lemon-garlic, as it cooks it releases the liquid. By covering the pan, the chicken is poached to a juicy tenderness. Drain chicken.
In an 8”x 8”, two quart casserole dish, cover bottom with 1/3rd of the condensed soup. Layer the chicken on the bottom followed by layer of broccoli and then soup mix. Add one more layer of chicken/broccoli and the rest of the condensed soup. Top with the shoepeg corn.
As per package instructions, prepare the cornbread stuffing. While “fluffing the stuffing” I like to drizzle a little maple syrup into the mix.
Once the stuffing is ready, cap the casserole being sure that the corners are left exposed for escaping heat. Place casserole on a cookie sheet and place on the center rack and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before plating. Serve with a stout beer.