This is another of those dishes featured on Kraft and Campbell soup labels and television advertisements in the 1960's. It really was not bad, but it never was all it could be. One of its selling points was that it made a great way to use leftover chicken, especially those dry and unappetizing white meat bits. Nancy's mother managed to acquire and use a variation on the standard, and after we were married, she made a batch for the family. I liked it!
Coming forward to now, we have tweeked the recipe several different ways. In this form, the dish deserves front and center at a meal where you want to impress. And that includes those high stakes potlucks at church where your reputation may be on the line. And it still has the blessing of using leftover chicken (whether you roasted it yourself or bought a rotisserie bird at the store).
Ingredients2 to 3 cups diced boneless leftover roasted chicken
2 small heads broccoli, florets removed and blanched, and cut to bite size pieces*
2 cups basmati rice
5 cups chicken broth, divided
2 Tbs. minced parsley
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
2 Tbs. EVOO
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbs. yellow mustard
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground mustard powder
2 Tbs. curry powder
2 - 4 squirts sriracha
salt and pepper
For the Rice:
Toast the rice for 2 to 4 minutes, but do not allow the rice to brown. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, a large pinch of salt and some pepper, the parsley, and the garlic, and bring the mixture to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 16 minutes. When the time expires, turn off the heat without uncovering the pot and allow it to rest more than 20 minutes.
For the Sauce:
Melt the butter in a saute or other pan over medium low heat and add the flour and a pinch of salt. Cook the flour in the butter, stirring constantly, for 2 to 4 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown. Add the remaining chicken broth and use a whisk to blend the liquid and solids. Just as the sauce mixture begins to bubble, add the mustard and the lemon juice. Whisk well. Add the mustard powder and curry powder. Whisk in well. Add the sriracha and whisk in well. Add the milk and whisk in well.
When the sauce begins to make small bubbles, taste and adjust salt and other spices. Add the cheese and whisk constantly as the cheese melts. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest as you layer the ingredients.
Set the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray grease a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Spread the rice evenly in the casserole.
Spread the chicken over the rice.
Cover the rice and chicken with the broccoli florets.
Spread the cheese sauce over the casserole.
Bake for 30 minutes to bubbling stage.
* Blanching broccoli: Cut the florets from the head. Bring a large pot of salty water to a rolling boil. Add the broccoli to the pot. When the pot returns to the boil, remove the broccoli and plunge it in ice water to stop the cooking.