Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Fried rice. Blah. It's always fried rice. Whenever there's leftover rice in our house, the first thing that we make is fried rice. Well, it's time for a change and a change it was! I was in the mood for something comforting, easy to whip up and quick for dinner and as I flipped through a new recipe magazine, I came across this recipe for Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole. This was a great dish for a couple of reasons... It was definitely comforting, a breeze to put together and it made it to the table in less than 30 minutes. But even beyond that, it was so good I made another baking dish of this recipe to freeze and enjoy later...

This dish combines ready cooked rice and fresh broccoli florets in a creamy, cheesy sauce. You may automatically assume the cheese was cheddar but in fact, Parmesan cheese was used with a touch of Dijon mustard for a little tang and color. For a little but of saltiness, I added some bacon which really took it to another level. Now the original recipe called for chicken, but enjoyed it without and served it with a simple roast chicken instead.

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen

4 cups leftover cooked rice
1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rice in a baking dish and set aside.

Combine the broccoli and 1/4 cup water in a microwave safe bowl, cover and microwave for 3-5 minutes until tender. Drain broccoli and set aside. Alternately, you could use those package ready broccoli florets that can be microwaved and steamed in the packaging.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and bacon, cooking until they begin to brown. Stir in flour and cook until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in broth and cream, simmering until thickened. Add the mustard, cheese and the broccoli into the sauce in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer this broccoli cheese mixture to the prepared baking dish and pour over the rice.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes to warm through and enjoy.