Chicken, Mushroom, Pea and Stuffing Casserole

March 1, 2010 · 19 comments

in chicken/poultry,healthy

Casseroles get a pretty bad rap in the food/culinary community.  And yet, there are very few people I know who don’t find casseroles extremely comforting and tasty–maybe because so many grew up on them.

A lot of people automatically associate casseroles with Campbell’s cream soups, but they certainly don’t have to be made with them if you don’t want them to be.  Like all convenience foods, the components of a casserole can easily be made from scratch.  Not only is it easy to do with ingredients you more than likely have on hand, but this way you know exactly what you’re eating and can control the sodium level.

In the very, very few times I’ve made stuffing, I have always opted for staling the bread myself overnight, but at some point I bought unseasoned bread cubes to try out.  Well, months and months later, half the bag was still sitting in my pantry, so I decided rather than just make stuffing, I’d make one of those nostalgic chicken and stuffing casseroles.  If you have extra bread, just cut it into cubes and lay it on a cooling rack or cookie sheet to dry overnight.

I wanted to keep this relatively healthy so I didn’t use a lot of fat/flour in my roux. I still think my mixture was plenty thick enough but if you don’t, you can either start with more butter and flour, or you can add a cornstarch slurry at the end until you get the thickness you want.  I also didn’t dot butter on top of the stuffing, but by all means, feel free to do so. This is pretty much the epitome of casseroles. It’s certainly not show-stopping but it’s easy, comforting, tasty & simple.

Chicken, Mushroom, Pea & Stuffing Casserole

Serves 4
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2 Tbsp. butter or Smart Balance
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup strong chicken broth/stock, divided (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/2 cup milk (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/4 cup grated (about 2 oz.) pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
1 lbs. cooked and shredded chicken breast (made from about 1.25 lbs. raw, I prefer roasting or poaching mine)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1.5 cups cubed, staled bread (left out overnight) or unseasoned bread cubes
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
scant 1/4 tsp. ground sage
scant 1/4 tsp. ground marjoram

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray a 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish.

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have lost most of their moisture.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the flour. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown.  Slowly add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and the milk.  Whisk out any flour clumps and continue to simmer until the mixture bubbles  slightly and begins to thicken, just coating the back of a spoon.  Stir in the chicken and the peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the caserole dish.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of broth with the staled bread and the herbs. Place the mixture on top of the chicken mixture.  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

tobias cooks! March 2, 2010 at 6:23 am

Looks juicy and delicious you casserole. I am getting hungry…

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bellini valli March 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

I grew up making mac and cheese, tuna casserole and shelpherds pie..talk about comfort food and the zone. Your casserole fits in very well!!!!

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Melissa March 2, 2010 at 10:15 am

yum – that looks great! I love how you slimmed it down to a healthier recipe.

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Anna A March 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Whenever I think of casseroles I think of the midwest. You got me thinking about making a lenten version of this. Hmmm… Any ideas?

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elly March 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Anna when you say lenten, do you just mean meatless or do you also follow other guidelines like about dairy, etc.? If it’s just meatless, I would say some portobello mushrooms cut into slices would be great and meatier than cremini or button mushrooms, and I’d probably also add some spinach or even a roasted winter squash.

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Jan March 2, 2010 at 6:27 pm

This looks delicious, Elly! Can’t wait to try it! I bet even my pickiest of picky toddlers would try it :)

Maybe it’s just my tired eyes, but I don’t see peas in the ingredients list. How much do you use?

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elly March 2, 2010 at 6:54 pm

No, Jan, it’s my tired brain, not your tired eyes. :) I totally missed adding the peas but it should be fixed now! Thanks for noticing.

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Jan March 2, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Awesome! It’s on the menu for next week :)

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Juliana March 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Elly, nice casserole…love the one dish meal…so comforting :-)

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nina March 3, 2010 at 6:21 am

I tell you Elly, my family would choose a casserole over a roast anyday!!! This looks comforting and inviting!!!

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Erin March 4, 2010 at 9:40 am

I love the ease of a one dish meal like this. You can make ahead, and just toss in the oven when it’s time to make dinner. Plus, I associate casseroles with leftovers, which are perfect for lunch the next day!

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lainer March 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Why do people who haven’t tried a recipe bother to comment on how good it looks rather than waiting until they actually try the recipe? It’s seems they could add more useful comments if they had actually made the recipe. Yes pictures look good and inspire, they just are not a way of judging how something tastes.

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elly March 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Personally, I appreciate any and all comments. It lets me know a person is reading my blog and enjoys my posts. I appreciate when people come back and tell me they’ve tried a recipe, and offer up any reviews/suggestions, too, but I don’t think it should only be that way. After all, this is a blog and not a recipe-only site like Food Network, Epicurious, etc.

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Adrienne March 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Tonight we made this recipe with frozen leftover turkey breast from Thanksgiving, leftover stuffing from the same meal for the top, and an extra tablespoon of butter and flour for the roux. It was amazing. Thanks so much for the recipe. I have enough turkey breast and stuffing left to make this again soon. It was great to be able to use the leftovers in a different way than just thawing it out and reheating.

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elly March 17, 2010 at 6:53 am

So glad you liked it, Adrienne!

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Dawn from Life on Purpose and Principle January 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Oh my word this is such a delicious casserole! Totally comfort food. Totally yummy. Totally healthy, too. I’ve quit using processed foods all together and try to only buy organic, pastured meats and dairy, whole grains, etc. so I just love that I could make something this delicious without using canned cream-o soups, MSG and other preservatives and tons of sodium…that roux is phenomenal…I used a dark, rich, chicken broth that I had been simmering for 2 days to make the roux and WOW! Super flavor. I also had a batch of whole wheat bread that totally flopped, so I cut it up into cubes and let it sit out overnight, and other than only putting 2 cloves of garlic instead of 4 for a double batch (just wasn’t in the mood for that much garlic, oddly enough) and sprinkling the top with sharp cheddar (half of the family doesn’t like Parmesan cheese) I made it exactly as written. This is definitely one that will be in the rotation for the fall/winter seasons…thanks so much for sharing! I’ve shared it with my friends, too…I know they’ll love it!

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elly January 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm

So glad you enjoyed it, Dawn!

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melba July 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm

i love it looks so delicious, yummy makes me hungry

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