Mom, I am sorry I can't be home for your birthday this year but I am thinking of you and sending my love and hugs :)
In honor of YOU I made your delicious Chicken Casserole.
Dear readers, here's the dealeo with this dish: in grade school when my class was asked, "What's your favorite food?" the answer was a primarily, "PIZZA!"...except for one little girl who raised her hand proudly and proclaimed, "My mom's chicken casserole." I don't know what it is about this dish that makes it so wonderful, but it truly is comfort food and it really will make you feel close to home on a day when you need it most. I actually don't know where my mom got this recipe, or even if she made it up herself. But I am thinking the former because my mom is Persian and Campbell's Mushroom Soup isn't exactly a prevalent ingredient in that type of cuisine :)
What to do - Gather your ingredients:
- Chop and blanch two heads of broccoli OR defrost one large bag of frozen broccoli
- Boil and cut into slices 4 or 5 potatoes - any kind will do but my mom used Russet so that's what I did, too
- Poach and shred 3 chicken breasts or shred one rotisserie chicken: To do this, fill a pot with water to cover the raw chicken, add some salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and allow the chicken to cook through. DON'T throw away the juice because now you've made some lovely stock to use for soups later on.
- Made the topping/sauce by combining 1/2 cup milk, 1 can of soup, and 1/2 cup mayo in a bowl. Add a couple ladles of chicken stock and whisk together.
To prepare, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a Pyrex dish.
Now, here's where I differ from my mom - I top these with a few ladles of the sauce. She waits until the end and pours all of it on at once, but I like to do it this way so the entire dish stays moist.
Then put on the broccoli.
Next the chicken. Pour over the rest of the sauce.
Cover with shredded cheddar cheese and croutons. Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Take the foil off and bake until the cheese gets bubbly and melty and ooey-gooey.
You can actually put this in the fridge and bake it the next day if you want to turn it into a make-ahead meal.
Thank you, mom for the many ways you've made my life better and for all the sacrifices and hugs and tears and love that have laid the foundation for this new, better life we will share from this day forward. You deserve everything good in this world, mama, and I will always be here for you - just like you've been there for me.