chicken and broccoliThis recipe may at first look like a tacky casserole that you have to choke down at your great aunt’s house, a 1950s throwback hot dish that should have died along with plastic lawn ornaments and clear-cut gender roles. But it is not. Oh no. This is some sort of magical mixture of ordinary ingredients that come together to make something extraordinary.

If you’re looking at the ingredient list now and thinking to yourself that you would never, as a cook with self respect, ever make something that involves a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup and Miracle Whip, I again implore you to think again. My mother made this for us growing up (I’m not sure where she got the recipes) and it is the only meal from our childhood that me, my brother Mike, and my sister Rebecca, still make on a regular basis as adults – each with our special touches.

Not only that, but we have a joke among the three of us that when any one of us go through a breakup, the first time we hear back from our ex goes something like this: “Hi, I was just calling to see how you were… I hope that we can continue to talk even though things didn’t work out… by the way, do you have that recipe with the chicken and broccoli? I miss it. I miss it so much. I think about it all the time, it’s smell…”

I also like it because it’s pretty healthy – especially if you use low-fat ingredients and eat it over brown rice — and I almost always have all of the ingredients handy.

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 2 cups chicken broth (reserved from boiling chicken)
  • 1/3 cup of Miracle Whip (I use non-fat)
  • 2 Teaspoons lemon juice
  • Pepper to taste (I like a lot, it goes well with the lemon juice)
  • 1 small can of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs (I make my own by toasting and crumbling a few slices)
  • cooked rice

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.

Boil the chicken breasts until cooked through, about 15 minutes. While that’s cooking, cut the broccoli into bit-sized pieces and steam it until it is bright green (but not until it is floppy).

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, the Miracle Whip, the lemon juice, the mushrooms, and the pepper. When the chicken is done cooking, add two cups of the water to the mix.

Layer the chicken and broccoli in a large casserole dish. Pour the mushroom mixture over it. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese over the top. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Serve over hot rice.

Read last week’s Sunday Dinner recipe.