With the Holidays here, it seems to be the time of year when we host family and friends more often. With the often cooler weather and the challenge of feeding a crowd, casseroles can be a festive and delicious option! We have included recipes for three yummy options to try.
BROCCOLI AND CHEDDAR CASSEROLE WITH LEEKS
3 pounds of broccoli, cut into small florets
3 T olive oil
2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups whole milk
¼ t cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup crushed saltine crackers
½ cup sliced almonds
4 T melted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take a large, deep pot and place a steamer basket inside. Add 1-2 inches of water and place the broccoli inside. Cover the pot. Cook on high heat until the broccoli is crisp but slightly tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to paper towels to drain and rest.
In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and season generously with salt. Cook on medium-high until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until mixture is bubbly and a paste forms, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and whish constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper, and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Take a large, 2-inch deep baking dish and pour half of the cheese sauce into it and arrange evenly. Place the drained broccoli on top of the cheese sauce evenly across the dish and drizzle the remaining cheese sauce on top. In a small bowl, mix the almonds, crackers and butter and sprinkle mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
SOUTHERN BAKED CHICKEN CASSEROLE
2 T butter
1 T vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 celery bib, finely chopped
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups milk
Salt, freshly ground pepper and Tabasco
½ cup mayonnaise
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
½ cup finely chopped pimentos
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pan, melt the butter and add the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until mixture is well combined. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Remove from heat and stir in the mayonnaise, chicken and pimentos.
Transfer the mixture into a large baking dish. Spread the crushed Ritz crackers on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until bubbling and the top is golden brown. Let the casserole rest for 15 minutes before serving.
As a twist, you can add shredded cheddar cheese to the top of the casserole before adding the crackers!
CHRISTMAS MORNING CASSEROLE
Butter, for greasing
2 T olive oil
½ cup finely diced pepperoni
½ pound shiitake mushrooms, caps only, cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 t salt, and more for seasoning
8 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T soy sauce
½ t pepper
¾ pound day-old challah bread, sliced into 1 inch by 1 inch squares (10 cups)
6 ounces black forest ham, finely diced
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup finely chopped scallions (plus more for garnish)
Hot sauce, for serving
Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Take a large skillet and heat the olive oil. Add the pepperoni and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and large pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until softened and browned, about 6-7 minutes. Let the mixture cool completely.
Take a large bowl and beat the eggs with the milk, mustard, soy sauce pepper and 2 t of salt. Add the cooled vegetable mixture, challah bread, ham, both cheeses and the chopped scallions and mix well. Place the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the casserole and make for about 50 minutes, until the casserole is set and the top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then top with more scallions if desired. Serve with hot sauce.