Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

I was at an event last night, you know, hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite.  Or, you know, at least the people who work for the Hollywood elite.  Or really, just the common folk while the Hollywood elite conversed among themselves.  The point is, I was at a party on a Thursday!  What a rebel.

Anyway, I was talking to a very nice woman and she was telling me that her version of cooking is going to the prepared foods area at Whole Foods, which is not going to land her a man (her words!).  I told her cooking is a lot easier than people think, you just need to know where to start and find some simple recipes that are big on flavor, enough to impress a man people. Once you have a few of those down, you’ll get more comfortable and want to try more adventurous things!  Before you know it, you’ll never go to the Whole Foods prepared section again!  And maybe you’ll land a man.

Today’s recipe is one of those recipes that is delicious, simple, and impressive.  It’s got a ton of flavor, you probably have most of the ingredients already, and, if you’re into it, it’s low carb!  Something for everyone!

It starts by combining flour with some spices in a paper bag.  It’s like you’re own Shake-n-Bake!

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Then you coat each piece of chicken in that mix, and put it in a pan to brown.

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It starts like this…

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…and ends up like this!

 

 

After the chicken is golden brown, remove it, and add in half & half, cooking sherry, and a lot of parmesan cheese to make a flavorful sauce.

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In a baking dish you layer the chicken on top of a bed of chopped broccoli, and top each piece with prosciutto.

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Pour the sauce over the whole thing, and add more parmesan!  Never enough parmesan.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes until it’s perfectly done.

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Serve to guests who won’t understand how delicious it is until they take a bite and fall over in their chairs.

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You can use more or less chicken, you can cut the chicken breasts in half (so you have an excuse to use more prosciutto!), it works either way. The chicken is perfect, the prosciutto is crispy, and the broccoli absorbs the flavors and cheese from the sauce.  I encourage everyone to give it a try and report back. It’s super easy. And will definitely impress everyone who eats it!

CHICKEN & BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS:

6 chicken breasts

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 tbsp sage

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp paprika

3 tbsp unsalted butter

4 cups chopped broccoli

6 slices prosciutto

1/2 cup half & half

1/4 cup cooking sherry

2/3 cup parmesan or romano cheese

salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350.

2. In a paper bag, mix the flour, sage, oregano, and paprika.  Add chicken breasts, one by one, and shake to coat.  Like Shake-n-Bake!  Shake off the excess,and place aside.

3. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pan.

4. Pour excess oil from the pan, and add half & half.  Bring it to a light boil over high heat, stirring to scrape off the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the sherry, boil for one minute.

6. Add all but 3 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted.  Remove the pan from heat.

7. Place chopped broccoli in a layer at the bottom of a baking dish, and place chicken on top.  Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.

8. Pour sauce all over chicken and broccoli.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top of each piece.

9. Bake in oven until the chicken is tender, and the sauce is bubbling. About 30-35 minutes.  Serve hot!

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A Childhood Favorite

After you turn 35, talking about your childhood suddenly sounds so…old.  I was going to start this by writing “When I was young…” and then stopped and wrote “Growing up…” and stopped again.  Finally I tried “When I was a kid…” and gave up because there was no way I was going to avoid sounding like my father, who tells us stories of when he was a kid and had to walk 10 miles, barefoot, in the snow (even though he grew up where there was no snow).

When I was growing up (dammit!) I learned to cook by watching my mother in the kitchen. She was a busy woman, and still is, actually. I think she has a more active social life than I do.

During those busy days, she’d make some quick dinners, one of which became my favorite comfort food as I got older.  It’s a simple meal: pan fried cube steak, stir-fried broccoli, and Noodle Pasta Roni.  Easy, delicious, and always reminds me of home.

There’s really not much you can do to improve upon that perfect dish (I mean, honestly, Pasta Roni makes everything better, am I right?) But I figured I’d try anyway.  But before I tried that, I had to make the original meal, because, really any excuse for it is fine with me.

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Look at that.  The sear of the cube steak.  The crunch of that broccoli.  The creaminess of that pasta from a box.  *swoon*

Now if I were going to improve upon this slice of heaven, I’d obviously start with the steak.  A nice piece of grass-fed top sirloin is a great start.

I can’t stress how important it is to salt your meat.  Changes everything.

Next the broccoli could use something special.  If you’ve never roasted broccoli, follow Ina Garten’s recipe because it will change every feeling you have about broccoli.  If you hate broccoli, you will love this.  If you love broccoli, you will love it more.  You’ll want to eat it every day.

Olive oil + salt + pepper + heat = OMG

I pan-roasted the steak, finished it with some sriracha (because I am an adult), and cooked some pasta and tossed it with butter, oregano, and some parmesan. The result was wonderous:

Simple, probably healthier, and it still reminds me of home.  Now, let’s get a better look at that broccoli.

Delicious. And you can tell it’s the grown up version because I lit a very elegant bunny rabbit candle…that only grown ups can have.

What’s a comfort food that reminds you of when you were a kid (dammit!)?