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Comforting Chicken Casserole -- All Grown Up!

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“This is a reinvention of one of my favorite childhood dishes -- chicken and rice casserole with broccoli. The original used the standards: condensed soup, loads of cheese, and canned breadcrumbs. But, the new version is a bit more grown up, combining creamy risotto, nutty roasted broccoli, rich almonds, and tart lemon. I have to admit, I was nervous about making risotto at first, but after a few attempts it definitely becomes easier.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil onto chicken breasts and broccoli florets. Season both with salt and pepper. Place chicken and broccoli in preheated oven. Broccoli will take about 15 minutes (the tops will get brown/black, but don't worry). The cooking time for the chicken will vary depending on thickness. Turn broccoli and chicken halfway through. Remove and allow to cool.
  2. When cool, shred the chicken and chop the broccoli into more bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in sauce pot, but do not bring to a boil. Add the saffron to the stock while heating.
  4. In a larger pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they start to sweat (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add rice to pot and stir to coat each grain with the oil/butter mixture. Cook rice for about 3 minutes, but do not allow it to brown.
  6. While stirring, add 1 cup of heated stock to the pot, along with the lemon zest. Add salt to taste at this point (more if you're using low-sodium broth, less if the stock is salted), and freshly cracked pepper if desired.
  7. When broth has evaporated, add 1 cup of broth, again stirring fairly regularly as the mixture simmers. Continue adding broth 1 cup full at a time, allowing it to absorb before adding the next cup. You MUST stir the risotto throughout the entire broth-adding portion (about 20 minutes total).
  8. *You may want to taste the risotto toward the end of the 20 minutes, adding salt and pepper to suit your taste.
  9. After last stock addition, add the lemon juice and stir. Add the shredded chicken, chopped broccoli, toasted almonds, and parmesan cheese, stirring to combine. Finally, add the parsley, if using.
  10. I let the mixture "hang out" in the pan but off the burner for a few minutes before serving.
  11. Feel free to add more cheese and/or freshly cracked pepper if desired.

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