Healthy Chicken Stock and Creamy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

There’s nothing like comforting, delicious chicken stock…whether it’s in a soup, gravy or rice. It flavors and is the base of so many recipes that we often find ourselves always buying boxes and boxes from the store. This can start getting expensive and the healthy boxes of stock are typically pricier. Making your own stock at home allows you to store or freeze multiple quarts for future use and you can closely control the fat, nutrition and sodium content. And it’s easy, not much chopping or peeling, just waiting for those flavor to develop. =) Here’s my recipe for a healthy and tasty stock, which also includes strong disease-fighting ingredients like ginger and turmeric. You’ll definitely get a better bang with your buck with this recipe!

That’s not all folks! You’ll not only be getting a few quarts of stock from this recipe, but also tender and flavorful slow-cooked meat that you can store for future meals. My Creamy Chicken, Broccoli and Wild/Brown Rice Casserole is inspired by my Mama’s Chicken Divan, one of her staples at potlucks growing up. Love it! It’s simple, wholesome and can satisfy the whole family. Try it this week!

-Mel

Health tips: Anti-inflammatory, low carb, low fat, heart healthy, diabetes friendly

Stock Ingredients (Yields 3 quarts)

  • 7 lbs. chicken (BONE-IN breasts, legs, thighs and/or wings); Remove skin from at least half or all the meat. (Tip: To save money, you can also ask the butcher for bones and carcasses only, or you can use the bones/carcass from a previously roasted chicken or turkey.)
  • 1 1/2 large onions, unpeeled, cut in quarters (Tip: The peels contain a lot of nutrients.)
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut in halves
  • 2 large stalks of celery, including leaves, cut in thirds
  • 2 parsnips, unpeeled, cut in thirds
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh dill
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise to release juices
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon salt (Use less or none at all) – 1 tablespoon yields only about 160 mg of sodium per cup
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • Thumb of fresh ginger
  • 3 teaspoons turmeric
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
  • Large 7-10 quart stockpot

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Steps

  1. Place all ingredients in the stockpot and bring to a boil. Then, let simmer for 2 hours.20110617- 02073520110617- 020811
  2. After 2 hours, the chicken should be cooked and very tender. Remove from the pot and throw away any skin you left on the chicken. Remove meat from the bones and store away in the fridge. This recipe yields a little more than 2 quart-sized ziplock bags.20110617- 044814
  3. Put bones and carcasses back in the pot and continue to simmer for remaining 2 hours.
  4. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. 20110617- 06382320110617- 065628
  5. You can use the stock right away while still warm and still get rid of some fat with 2 techniques 1) Carefully skim the top layer of fat off with a paper towel, but be careful not to go too deep so you don’t suck up stock OR 2) Put ice in a ladle and swirl the bottom around on the top of the stock. Fat will stick to the bottom. (Shout out to our good friend and amazing chef Aaron Bryan for the tips!!!) 
  6. If you have time, chill the stock overnight. It’ll be easier to skim off the top layer of fat. You’ll clearly see the fat separated at the top. Use immediately or store away in quart-sized containers. You can also freeze in ziplock bags for up to 3 months.20110617- 193834

Casserole Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup 2% low-fat evaporated milk (get 12 oz. can and save extra in case you need more liquid)
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayo
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • A dash of grated nutmeg
  • 4-5 sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup fat-free cheddar cheese; 1/4 cup extra for topping
  • Optional: A pinch of kosher salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice or brown/wild rice mix; use chicken stock to cook (Tip: Freshly cooked rice is better, but for faster preparation, look for instant rice in the grains/pasta aisle. Minute rice is low in sodium and comes in packs of 2.)
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli (can come with 1 large head or 2 smaller heads), chopped into small bitesize pieces

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Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Boil some water in a small saucepan and quickly blanch the broccoli, about 2 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium OVEN-SAFE sauté pan over medium heat. Throw in thyme sprigs and onions. Cook onions until translucent and softened, about 10 minutes. Add in flour a bit at a time and whisk until it thickens into a roux (base for our cream sauce). Should be a nice golden hue.20110617- 073354
  4. Whisk in the stock and milk until smooth. Simmer and stir constantly at low/medium heat. As soon as it starts to thicken, about 5-10 minutes, take off the heat immediately. (sauce should coat back of spatula) (Tip: Remember to thicken the sauce at a consistent low/medium heat. If sauce is on too high of a heat, it will start to get gritty. It’ll get thicker when it sits and is mixed in with the chicken, rice and vegetables, so better to have a looser than pasty sauce.)
  5. Add in the sour cream, mayo, dijon mustard and cheddar cheese. Season with salt, garlic powder, pepper and nutmeg. Add more milk if too thick. Remove the thyme sprigs.
  6. Stir in rice, broccoli and chicken. Top with cheddar cheese.20110617- 075922
  7. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and it’s a nice golden hue. 20110617- 081834
  8. Let casserole sit for 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!20110617- 082947
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2 thoughts on “Healthy Chicken Stock and Creamy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

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