Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole

My Minnesotan Grandma, Maxine, was a big fan of the “hot dish” and a consummate 1950’s cook.  Meaning she embraced the “casserole decade” and loved to use processed food like jello and cream of chicken/celery/mushroom/younameit soup.

These processed, frozen and ready-to-eat foods gained foothold in the American diet after years of rationing food during WWII.  From scratch was out, convenience was in, plainly-cooked, high in fat, filing low-cost meals were for dinner.   My Dad grew up eating meatloaf, pot roast, casseroles, spam and ham.

This is not to discount my Grandma’s kitchen skills!  While she embraced the trends of her time, she enjoyed being in the kitchen, was devoted to feeding her family and as I was growing up she shared her recipes and spent time teaching me about cooking.   Now I cherish her recipe books and the handwritten recipes she mailed me  (along with $2 bills she would have to go make special trips to the bank for- how sweet is that?!)

I inherited her love of a clean kitchen, returning things, corn in the summertime and her Norwegian fair skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.  She didn’t get to go to college but loved Duke and was a huge Blue Devil basketball fan.  She never really traveled but I know she is proud of all the places I have seen.

I’m a subscriber to modern cooking trends with the emphasis on seasonal cooking, fresh, organic local ingredients whenever possible.  If I’m making a “hot dish” I’d rather make my own roux than use the gloopy canned cream of x.  If you’ve never made one before you might be surprised that you already have all the ingredients you need and it takes about the same amount of time as it would to open a can.

This creamy, cheesy broccoli chicken bake is inspired by my Grandma Max with my modern twist.  I’d love to hear what cooking tips and recipes your Grandma taught you – either in the comments or you can always email me.  Bon Appetit!

IMG_7537What to buy (serves 2):

  • 2-3 cups broccoli, I used frozen but either works
  • ½ cup mayonnaise or butter (I had some olive oil mayo so that’s what I used but a traditional roux calls for butter…)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

What to do:

  • combine mayonnaise and flour in saucepan over medium heat
  • stir in chicken broth and milk
  • add chicken
  • arrange broccoli in 8×8 baking dish
  • cover broccoli with mixture and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika
  • bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
  • top with shredded cheese
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