Ok, time to come clean: I, Sarah Elek, have an enormous sweet tooth.  Courtesy of my beloved Dede, my mother’s mother, I crave sweets after every meal and always make sure I leave room for them.  It appears that Dede was not the only one who I inherited my sweet tooth from- the overwhelming amount of pastries and desserts in my Grandmother’s recipes leaves no doubt as to her penchant for sweets.  There are just so many incredible Hungarian delicacies featuring sugar that it can be hard to remember to make something savory.  My Dad reminded me that I should be making Trapacska and Paprikas, but these are heavy dishes, much more suited for winter and not the 100 degree weather we’ve been having.  So for this post I made a recipe that is not exactly Hungarian, but is one of my Grandmother’s nonetheless and incredibly delicious.  It is savory, not too terribly heavy, and even incorporates a little sour cream- one of the key ingredients to any Hungarian dish.  Best of all?  I finally get to introduce you to some vegetarian protein!

The base of the casserole, with the cheese ready to go

Many of you may have had some version of Chicken and Broccoli Casserole before.  It is a classic dish, one of many, many casseroles to come out of the 50’s, and it smells like home and comfort and mom.  Misha and I made Grandma’s version together one night, and tweaked it here and there.  Misha felt that rice was necessary, we substituted cream of mushroom soup for cream of chicken soup, and of course being vegetarians we did not use chicken, but instead used a vegetarian protein made from mushrooms masquerading as chicken.  It’s sold under the brand name “Quorn”.

Quorn is fantastic because it is soy free and much more nutritious than other vegetarian proteins.  I love that it’s made from mycoprotein (fungi, i.e. mushrooms)- the common saying, “tastes like chicken!” is very appropriate here.  Quorn makes a lot of different products that are great for all sorts of dishes (their chicken nuggets are an awesome post-late-night-party snack), and we used their naked chik’n cutlets for our casserole, cut into cubes.  Once blended in the casserole, you would never know it wasn’t the real thing!

The topping and the biscuit halves

We were both a bit skeptical about the final step in the recipe- the “topping” Grandma calls it.  Grandma tells you to mix sour cream and egg and spread it over the biscuits right before the second stage of baking.  I have brushed egg yolks on top of various doughs to give them a golden look at the end, but the last time I baked sour cream in a casserole it came out wrong and I was concerned the topping would come out wrong too.  Again, my Dad intervened and said if it’s in Grandma’s recipe, it has to be good.  And of course, he was right- Grandma would never lead me astray, and it turned out wonderful.  We loved it so much, and I’m sure you will too.  Grandma’s Chicken and Broccoli casserole is a family-friendly and comforting classic with a Hungarian twist.

With the biscuits and topping added, ready for the second bake

Could that be any more delicious looking?!

Grandma’s Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

3 Quorn Naked Chik’n Cutlets, cooked according to package directions and cut into cubes (microwave is the quickest and easiest for this recipe)

3 Heads and stems of fresh broccoli, chopped and cooked (About 3-4 cups)

10 ½ oz can cream of mushroom soup (I think ours was 12 oz)

1 medium red onion, chopped

¼ cup mayonnaise (you can use the vegan version, vegenaise, if you want)

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Dash of curry

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

8 oz. can refrigerated biscuits (or you can make your own from scratch)

Optional ingredient: 1 cup cooked whole grain rice

Topping:

¼ cup sour cream

1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seed (we omitted this, but only because we didn’t have any and didn’t want to spend any more money!)

Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium bowl, combine chicken, broccoli, soup, onion, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, curry, and rice if you are using it.  Mix well.  If you need more liquid to thoroughly cover all the ingredients, add a little bit of milk.  Pour mixture into ungreased 9 x 11 baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ cup of cheddar cheese and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Meanwhile, separate the biscuits into 10 pieces and cut each biscuit in half.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg, salt and celery seed if you are using it.  Take the casserole out after the timer has gone off and arrange the biscuit halves cut side down on top of the casserole.  Add the last ½ cup of cheddar cheese.  Using a spoon or knife, spread the topping over the biscuits.  Return to the oven and bake for 25-30 more minutes, or until golden brown.  Cut and enjoy!  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Advertisements