Have you ever had one of those moments where you are just staring into the abyss of your refrigerator hoping that something will jump right out of there and make itself for dinner? Well, that was the origin of this here casserole. No, unfortunately, it didn’t make itself, but it was made with ingredients that were just taking up shelf space. Plus, it’s fairly healthy if you don’t count the bacon and cheese, AND it’s gluten free. What, what?! Yeah, I said it. Gluten free. I was first inspired by a little ol’ container of leftover roasted chicken. Then after rummaging through the vegetable drawer, I came out with the vegetables that never die: carrots and celery. On to the freezer. Hmmmmm…yup, there it is. Broccoli. I always have frozen broccoli on hand. It’s just so dadgum convenient to pull out a bag, steam it and serve it as a side for the hubby and kiddos.But rather, in this case, it gets to be the star of the show. Good for you broccoli. This casserole is my masterpiece of hodge-podge deliciousness. Enjoy.
- 4 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 cups brown rice
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large carrots diced
- 2 stalks of celery diced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 5 strips of thick-cut bacon cold, diced into small cubes
- 1/2 to 1 pound of Cooked Chicken Breasts diced or shredded
- 2 ½ cups steamed broccoli florets
- 2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350° and have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish.
In a medium-sized saucepan with a fitted lid, bring chicken stock, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Add rice and stir for one minute to release the starches. Cover and allow to simmer for 40 minutes, or until all of the broth has been absorbed into the rice. Do not lift the lid while cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to sit, covered for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and spread onto the casserole dish. Add black pepper, mix well and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion and sauté until carrots have slightly softened, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add vegetables to the rice.
Carefully, wipe the saute pan clean. Turn heat back to medium-high. Add cubed bacon and cook until crisp and deeply browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Transfer two-thirds of the cooked bacon to the casserole dish along with chicken, broccoli and 1 ½ cups of the Cheddar cheese. Gently stir ingredients together. Top the casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, sprinkle over the last of the bacon and bake for 25-30 minutes.