Now it seems like a no-brainer to cover some leftovers in creamy sauce, bake them up with some cheese, and then - voila - a whole new dinner, but I'd never tried it until I saw a recipe similar to this in a Cook's Illustrated special issue about quick meals. I love that magazine for ideas and tips, but even the quick recipes are so fussy I often don't follow the exact instructions. It's not that I doubt their version is more efficient and maybe even better, they're just so bossy. But the interchangeability of this meal is undeniable. You could make it with rice, pasta, or even potatoes for the "base," then add just about any protein (or not), and a wide variety of vegetables. All you'd make is the sauce. I do make it sometimes with no leftovers at all, but it's better to wait until I have some rice and chicken in the fridge so it's less work (the only thing I wouldn't use - veggies that are already on the soft side). And it freezes well. Oh, I forgot to mention it's delicious.
Broccoli Rice Bake (a.k.a Leftovers Casserole)
serves 4 generously
4 cups cooked/1.5 cups uncooked brown rice
2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
4 cups broccoli
4 T butter
1 onion, diced2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup stock
1 cup cream
1 t mustard
1.5 cups cheese (I like a mix of Parm and Cheddar)
- If you're not using leftovers, cook the rice; steam the broccoli until it's still a little crunchy (so it doesn't turn to mush when baked); then cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter or oil until light brown and cooked through. Set these aside.
- In a large, high-sided frying pan that can go in the oven,* melt the butter and add the onion. Saute until the edges start to brown and then add the garlic.
- Saute until the garlic softens (a couple of minutes) and then sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic. Stir well so the flour has a chance to brown for a minute or two, but not burn (it will stick to the pan, but don't worry).
- Dump in the cream, stock, and mustard and whisk vigorously.
- Add the broccoli, chicken, and 2/3 of the cheese and stir well.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste.
- If you're using leftovers, stir this on the heat for a few minutes so that the ingredients are heated through.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and pop under the broiler until brown and bubbly.
- Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.