Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole
Growing up in the South I attended a lot of pot luck dinners. There were always certain things there, and amusingly, everyone had a different way of making them. Deviled eggs usually made an appearance, some made with pickle relish, some not, some sprinkled with paprika, some piped with a flower icing tip. Another sure bet was cornbread. You’d find some people made it sweet, some didn’t, and which ever camp you were in, you were adamant that your cornbread was the best. There was usually a Jello salad of some sort. And you’d almost certainly find some sort of Ambrosia salad. Potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken…oh my! No two were alike. Ever. Another sure bet was a chicken casserole.

Chicken casserole, oh the many ways this dish can be made! This variety is made with a cornbread/stuffing like topping. When I go to Tennessee these days, I end up cooking a few times while I’m there. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking anymore and she jokes that she’s my sous chef and does the chopping and cleaning. Last week when I was there, I made Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Casserole and Irish Stew on Saint Patrick’s Day. This version of Chicken Casserole is mostly how my mom made it. It has a cornbread/stuffing topping, two kinds of cream of soups, lots of chicken, and a surprise ingredient that she usually didn’t add…sour cream.

This makes the perfect meal, paired with a salad. It’s hearty and the ultimate comfort food when you’re looking for something that reminds you of childhood, or my childhood at least. You can’t go wrong.

What You’ll Need:
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (Note: You can use white meat or dark meat or a mix of both.)
1 can of cream of celery soup (Note: You can buy a soup or make you own. I usually make one, but this go around I stuck to the canned variety. Pacific makes some good cream of soups you could use. If you can’t find celery, you can use cream of chicken.)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Note: See above.)
1 cup of sour cream
Sea salt
Pepper
4-6 cups of crumbled cornbread (Note: I prefer unsweetened cornbread for this, but when I made it at my mom’s house we used a Jiffy mix and it was good. Again it’s a preference thing. I think it’s better with regular cornbread, but you can go either way. Use 4 cups if you want a thinner topping, 6 if you like a thicker variety.)
2 tablespoons of ground sage
2 eggs
1 cup of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and spread out the chicken in an even layer:

Chicken Casserole: Chicken

Add soups, sour cream, a pinch of each salt and black pepper to the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Soups, Sour Cream, Salt and Pepper

Stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Ready for Cornbread Topping

In a separate bowl, crumble the corn bread:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread

Add a pinch of each salt and pepper and the ground sage:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread, Sage, Salt and Pepper

Next add eggs and broth and stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread Topping Ready to Spread

Spread the cornbread mixture out over the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Read to Bake

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown:

Chicken Casserole: Baked!

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are so many variations of this casserole you can make. If you want, you can use a stuffing mix as the topping, instead of making a basic cornbread stuffing. More chicken is fine, so is less. You can switch out the soups and use different kinds. Mom had some sour cream that needed to be used, so that’s why I added it this time, as an experiment, and I ended up liking it a lot, but if you don’t have sour cream, you could use a little milk of cream instead, about 1/2 a cup.