Sneaky, Cheesy Casserole
By America’s Test Kitchen
With tender rice, bites of fresh broccoli, and bold sharp cheddar flavor, this casserole is irresistible—nothing like the typical back-of-the-soup-can recipe. Instead of canned soup, use a mixture of half-and-half and chicken broth as the rich base, and then add plenty of extra-sharp cheddar and nutty Parmesan cheese. Using the sweet broccoli stalks as well as the florets really maximizes the broccoli flavor. Since the stalks take a bit longer to cook, sauté the chopped stalks in butter with onion before adding the rice, liquids, and broccoli florets (parcooked in the microwave for a jump start). For a substantial crowning touch, sprinkle on some garlicky fresh bread crumbs enriched with more Parmesan. This textural topping bakes up brown and crispy while the casserole bubbles enticingly at the edges.
Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Total Time 1 hour
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (¾ cup), divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and chopped, divided
1 onion, chopped fine
1¼ cups long-grain white rice
4 cups chicken broth
1¼ cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon table salt
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Pulse bread, ¼ cup Parmesan, and melted butter in food processor until coarsely ground, about 5 pulses. Add garlic and pulse to combine.
2. Microwave broccoli florets, covered, in large bowl until bright green and tender, 2 to 4 minutes; set aside. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and broccoli stalks and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, half-and-half, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Off heat, stir in cheddar, cayenne, broccoli florets, and remaining ½ cup Parmesan.
3. Transfer mixture to prepared dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.
Serves 8 to 10
Reprinted, with permission, from One-Hour Comfort by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, 2021), americastestkitchen.com.