This is a recipe that my mom came up with when I was growing up and so to me it reminds me of childhood and comfort food. There’s nothing fancy or French about it as the name implies, it’s just chicken, broccoli, and a really tasty white cheese sauce, and everyone always loves it. The recipe makes three 8x8 casseroles -perfect for small families like ours ( I like to eat one and freeze the others ) but you can of course easily double the recipe or change the amount of casseroles according to your needs. I like to serve this with long grain brown rice and carrots.
makes three 8x8 casseroles ( each serving four )
chicken and broccoli:
one 4 pound roasting chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds frozen broccoli florets
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
to make the chicken and the broccoli:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush the chicken with the olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the temperature down to 375 degrees, and pour the chicken stock over the chicken. Return to the oven, and continue to roast, uncovered, for about 1 hour, basting halfway through, until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees when inserted into the outer thigh. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of chicken. Set aside.
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of broccoli. Set aside.
to make the white sauce:
Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over boiling water. When the butter is completely melted and bubbling, add the flour, whisking until well blended. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate sauce pan, scald the milk. Add the milk to the butter and flour mixture gradually, while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the cheeses, salt and white pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
to assemble the casseroles:
Divide the chicken between the three casserole dishes. Spread the broccoli over the chicken. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the chicken and broccoli. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.