Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

I have picky children.  Which is weird coming from a foodie like me.  It’s kind of funny because my momma is here visiting me and she noticed that TAB will straight up eat chicken nuggets every day for lunch.  So one day she told TAB if she didn’t eat something different she was going to turn into a chicken nugget.   And you know my 4 year old daughter is NOT gullible.  But she’s still eating chicken nuggets for lunch each day…and I’m convinced soon I will have a TAB shaped chicken nugget.

Anyways, one trick I found to getting the tiny humans to eat a lot of good food is to make a sauce they will like to disguise it.  Not that that’s always the best option, but I’ve found if you add a cheese sauce to anything, it will be devoured.

So the other day I had a bag of broccoli I wanted to use up and threw together this cheesy chicken, broccoli and rice casserole.  I did use chicken breast and brown rice to make myself think it was healthier, but it still had a good dose of cheese sauce for the children.   Oh and I threw in some pancetta because everything’s better with bacon.

Start by sauteeing your diced pancetta in a little bit of olive oil.

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Add cut up chicken breast.

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Add salt and pepper.  Cook until the chicken is cooked through.

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Remove from pan.

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In same pan, add onions and garlic.  Sautee for about 4-5 minutes.

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Add broccoli and saute for another 5-7 minutes until broccoli is nearly cooked.

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Remove from heat.

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Meanwhile cook your brown rice and make your cheese sauce.

Start by melting 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a pot.

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Add flour and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

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Slowly add milk, stirring constantly so there are no lumps.

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Add cheese.

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Cook for about 4 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is thick and bubbly.

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Add chicken and pancetta into the sauce.

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Add the broccoli and onions.

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Add cooked brown rice.

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Stir it all together.

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Pour into a casserole dish.

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Top with about a cup of shredded cheese.

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Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until top is bubbly and brown.  Enjoy!

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Recipe:

1.5 lbs chicken breast, cubed
6 oz pancetta, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese – divided

In a medium pan, saute diced pancetta in olive oil.  When brown and crispy, add the cubed chicken breast.  Cook until the chicken breast is cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan.  In same pan, add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes.  Add in the broccoli and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the broccoli is cooked through.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, cook brown rice in a rice cooker while you are making the cheese sauce.  Melt butter in a medium pot.  Add flour and cook for a few minutes.  Slowly add milk – stirring constantly.  Once the milk has thickened slightly, add 2 cups of cheese.  Stir and cook for a few more minutes until the cheese sauce is thick and bubbly.  Add in the chicken, pancetta, broccoli, onions, garlic, and brown rice.  Stir to combine.  Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with the remaining cup of cheese.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Caroline