>Chicken Mushroom Casserole for Back to School


Cut down the back to school mayhem with this easy and comforting casserole

Back to school is a big time for resolutions for me. I want to feed my family better, want to get the kids started off right with good lunches, want to set the tone right from the get go. But then the madness of back to school hits, and I’m suddenly driving to Staples at 8:30 at night with three cranky kids in tow in search of an elusive mandatory red plastic folder. The calendar starts to bleed red ink, and the lazy summer afternoons are a quaint memory.

So this week, I’m starting out slow and simple with our dinner menu. The important thing is to sit down together every night with something tasty and homemade. No need to be fancy, to dig out the recipe books, this is not the time to try something new. Back to school is a time to celebrate routine.

I started out by roasting two chickens. I like to roast two at a time because we then eat one for dinner, often using a third or fourth drumstick to keep fights from breaking out, and then have plenty for leftovers to make another dinner and sometimes even fun lunch sandwiches. Prepping two chickens is no more effort than making one.

After the house filled with the delicious aroma of roasting chicken, we ate its crispy skin and juicy meat, and everyone ran off to get ready for bed. As part of the post-dinner clean up, I threw together this creamy chicken and mushroom casserole and popped it in the oven. The secret weapon is crispy onion strings blended with crackers to make the topping. It brings a salty savory crunch to every bite. Voila! Two meals made out of one, and less stress for the family at dinner time on day two.

Chicken Mushroom Casserole
3 cups of leftover chicken, chopped coarsely
1 cup of sliced white mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped finely
3 tablespoons of butter

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of flour
3 cups of chicken stock (make sure to add any pan drippings left over from cooking the chicken)
2 egg yolks

For the topping
1 ½ cups of onion strings
3 cups of crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons of melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Chop up chicken meat.
3. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter. Add chopped shallots and pan fry on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes.
4. Mix mushrooms with chicken in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
5. Melt the 3 remaining tablespoons of butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat, add the flour
and stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes, until the flour taste is cooked off. Don’t let this brown.
Add the chicken stock all at once, stirring constantly until thickened. Once it is thickened and coats
the back of your spoon, turn off the heat. Then add in the egg yolks and stir until thoroughly mixed.
6. Pour over the chicken and mushroom mixture and blend well. Pour into an oven-proof casserole.
7. In a mini food processor, coarsely crumb the crackers and the onion strings. Pour melted butter on
top and pulse 7 to 10 times to mix well.
8. Sprinkle topping mixture over casserole to coat uniformly.
9. Cook in oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until topping is browned and casserole is bubbly.
10. Serve warm. Will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

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