Saturday, November 7, 2009

Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole

I have tried a few recipes for broccoli cheese and rice casseroles in the past, only to be disappointed, so when I started making this one, with no recipe and just an idea of how this classic comfort dish *should* taste, I was fully prepared to end up with another fail version. Thank goodness I was wrong, and persevered through another possible casserole disaster, because I think I've finally figured this recipe out :)

Lots of recipes I've seen for this classic start with cream of something soup, but not this one, it starts with cooked rice, steamed broccoli florets, and a delicious homemade creamy cheddar cheese sauce. To me this is a base recipe that could be jazzed up with some sauteed onions or mushrooms or garlic, and also lends itself to lots of variations based on the cheese you use.

Basic Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons flour -- I use wondra flour which is great for sauces
3 cups milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, as desired
2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar
4 1/2 - 5 cups cooked rice*, I used texmati brand jasmati which is like jasmine/basmati rice hybrid and cooks up nice and fluffy
1 lb steamed broccoli florets, steamed to just about desired doneness (frozen works fine, the kind you can steam in the microwave are great)

1 wrapped stack -- approx. 30 round buttery crackers (Ritz) crushed up
1/4 cup (1/2 sick) melted butter or margarine

*I used 5 cups and to me it seemed like it could have used a little less rice to make it even creamier, but my husband thought the texture was perfect with the 5 cups.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt 6 tbsp butter or margarine over medium heat in large sauce pan with whisk in hand, add the flour and make a roux, cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly, slowly add in 2 cups of the milk and salt, while whisking, and up the heat to medium high. After a few minutes when the sauce is bubbling and thickening, add the last cup of milk, cook a few more minutes, while whisking. Whisk 1 cup of cheese and turn off the heat.

Put the cooked rice in a very large bowl, pour the cheese sauce over the rice and mix thoroughly, add in the broccoli and mix again, add in the remaining 1 cup of cheese and mix again just to distribute the cheese.

Put the rice mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or spatula, top evenly with the crushed Ritz crackers, then drizzle the melted butter over the top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the cracker topping in lightly toasted and golden brown. Enjoy!

We really enjoyed this comfort food side dish, and it was extra easy to put together, especially since I made the rice in the rice cooker while I got the broccoli and sauce ready. After that just mix it all up, pop it in the oven, and you are all set. I'm sure we'll be making this one again, especially with cold weather season fast approaching.


Megan said...

Oh, I think I love you! I never utilize recipes that begin with "cream of something" soup - because it's just gross.

This is something I can wrap my brain around - and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Oh, this looks so good. Especially on a cold day.

Ciber said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here:

Editor and Community Developer -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

Anonymous said...

This looks so so good, and today its rainy and cold outside... perfect day to make this!

superman said...

This looks so adorable! It makes me feel hungry..
Great blogs!

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mj said...

That looks really fantastic!
Your recipe's are so great!

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Purple Pizza said...

This sounds fantastic! I really like all of the recipes you post about.

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