Casseroles were widely trending in the food world a couple of weeks back, coincidental or not, concurrent just about the time winter storms rippled across most parts of the country. Many folks have their favorites among these old throw back one- dish specialties, maybe you even prepared your own memorable special comfort dish as the white flakes from the sky piled up real high.
Who remembers the old Creamy Chicken, Mushroom, and Vegetable Casserole? Although one of my favorites, I’m not sure it went by that name exactly, I’m more sure it went by a variety of names, with as many similar versions all across the country. For some, it was a favorite Sunday Dinner, including a former boss of mine whose wife, ‘Glo,’ prepared it with bread cubes lining the bottom of a long rectangular baking dish, topped with a crunchy topping. Old Bill McCarney felt certain the Creamy Chicken Casserole was hands down, the best thing he ever tasted.
I’m certain prior to the rage of stirring together cans of cream of mushroom soup with sour cream and a couple splashes sherry then mixed with chicken was the quintessential, Chicken Divan. I say this because Chicken Divan was the pièce de résistance of my Aunt Kay throughout my early childhood who served it at every elegant affair set into long polished silver trays on the buffet, although in this version casserole was a creamy broccoli and chicken mixture whose traditional recipe used frozen broccoli spears, and also included mayonnaise. Fair enough to say I loved Chicken Divan and perhaps some day may even revisit a recipe especially for the memory. For today, my retro casserole includes some cooked shredded kale and some baby frozen peas, mainly because these were easily at hand following those days when flurried white flakes piled up real high, when the idea of preparing the Creamy Chicken, Mushroom, and Vegetable Casserole comfort food of the past was revisited as a welcome comfort dish, the casserole then trending in my own kitchen.
- oil or cooking spray for greasing casserole dish
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
- 4 large chicken breasts, cooked to 'just done' then cubed into bite sized pieces
- 2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/8 cup dry sherry
- 1 1/2 cups kale, inner stem removed, thinly sliced then cut in half
- 1 cup baby peas
- 1 teaspoon, coarse kosher salt, more or less to taste
- few grinds fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease casserole dish with oil or oil spray. Melt butter in a small skillet, spoon in Panko bread crumbs, cook on medium heat for two minutes, turn off heat, set aside. Cook kale in salted boiling water for two minutes, drain, when cool enough to handle squeeze out liquid with paper towels, set aside. In a large bowl stir together the Cream of Mushrooms soups, sour cream, dry sherry, nutmeg.Fold in the chicken cubes, kale, and baby peas until well blended throughout. Sprinkle over salt and pepper, stir. Transfer mixture into prepared casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and place into oven for thirty to thirty five minutes or until hot and bubbly throughout, remove aluminum foil, sprinkle Panko bread crumb mixture over top and broil until golden browned. Serve hot straight away.