Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Smothered Chicken Casserole

Smothered Chicken Casserole

Original Author says:  The bottom layer is like potatoes au gratin then it’s topped with tender, flavorful chicken and bacon and it’s all smothered in cheese. I mean, come on! Talk about a home run for your taste buds! And the best part? It’s all wrapped up in a perfect casserole.

I bought all the stuff I needed to make it and then had an idea. Stacey’s recipe doesn't have potatoes but I got to thinking that all that creamy goodness could easily work with sliced potatoes to make a casserole. And I’m one of those folks who, if I've got to turn my oven on, I’m getting as much out of it as possible! Deciding to use potatoes and make a casserole caused me to make a few other changes as well so what I ended up with isn't exactly like Stacey’s recipe. But they’re definitely close. Like cousins. Like first cousins. Who are buddies.

Smothered Chicken & Cheesy Potato Casserole

4-5 medium russet potatoes
1 10.75-oz. can condensed cheddar cheese soup* (such as Campbell’s)
1 1/4 cups milk
8-10 slices of bacon
8 chicken breast tenderloins (about 1.25-1.5 pounds)
4 ounces cheese**, shredded (about 1 cup)
Salt & pepper

Combine cheese soup and milk then whisk until smooth.
Reserve 1 cup of cheese soup mixture and set aside to use later.

Wash and peel potatoes then cut into thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick).
Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
Spoon 1/4 of the cheese soup mixture into the bottom of the dish.
Add a single layer of potato slices.
Season potatoes with salt and pepper.
Spoon another 1/4 of soup mixture over potatoes.
Repeat this process two more times so that you have three layers of potatoes topped with soup mixture.
Don't forget to salt and pepper each layer of potatoes.
Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bacon into 1/2-inch strips and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is browned and crispy.
Remove bacon pieces from skillet with a slotted spoon; set aside.

Season chicken tenderloins with salt and pepper (I actually used my Chicken Scratch seasoning) then sauté in bacon drippings over medium-high heat until lightly browned (we’re not trying to cook them through, just get a nice sear on each side); set aside.

Remove dish from oven and uncover.
Arrange chicken tenderloins on top of potatoes and pour reserved cheese soup mixture over chicken.
Cover tightly again and continue cooking for 30 more minutes.

Remove dish from oven and uncover.
Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over chicken and potatoes then top with bacon pieces.
Return dish to oven and continue cooking, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

UPDATE from original author: Though I have made this many many times and never had this issue (and though an hour is plenty time for three layers of thinly sliced potatoes to cook) a few folks have reported having to cook their casserole longer for the potatoes to get done. Be sure your potatoes are only 1/4" thick and that you only have three layers. If potatoes are not par-cooked and somewhat tender after the first 30-minute cook time, cover again and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes before adding the chicken.

**I used Monterrey Jack because I thought the white cheese would be a nice contrast to the cheddar soup mixture but feel free to use whatever's handy!

Stacey’s recipe calls for thinly sliced onions and I almost layered them with the potatoes but I let Brutus talk me out of it. Consider adding thinly slices onions to yours – I think it would be great!

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