Chicken broccoli casserole is a baked dish mixing the two named foods with a wide variety of ingredients including cheese, carbohydrates, and seasonings, among other things. Components are layered or mixed into a pot. Chicken is common in many types of casseroles, adding protein and absorbing flavor well in addition to providing several nutrients. Broccoli adds crunch, color, and a variety of vitamins as well. Additional ingredients include everything from cheese and soups to stuffing and potatoes, and some may be pre-cooked or added raw.
Casseroles are dishes baked in a pot or deep pan, usually involving some sort of crust, rice, or other carbohydrate. Several ingredients are mixed or layered and cooked all at once. Cookware is typically made from earthenware, metal, or glass. If rice, crust, or a bread topping isn't used, some sort of binding ingredient is common, like cheese.
Chicken is a common protein used in a casserole, largely due to its versatile taste. It absorbs flavors well and gives a hearty quality to otherwise light meals. The poultry is usually chopped or shredded for this type of food so it can combine well with other ingredients. Larger pieces may sometimes be layered atop fillings and topped with a cheese or crust. Skin and fat are typically removed, though stock may be used for flavor, especially in a chicken broccoli casserole.
Broccoli is often paired with chicken, offering a crunchy contrast to the meat's tender consistency. The vegetable is most often a medium to dark green, so it also adds color as well. It may be torn into small pieces or chopped into tiny chunks for layering or mixing. This vegetable is often mixed with wet ingredients like creamy soups, cheeses, or grains to help it stick to the chicken well. Broccoli adds a significant source of vitamin C, K, and A as well as fiber and folate to a casserole.
Aside from the two main ingredients, chicken broccoli casserole can feature a wide variety of components, like cheese, soups, and stocks or grains like rice, oats, or barley. Bread crumbs or chunks and stuffing mix are also common, and sometimes a savory crust or topping is added. Mashed potatoes may also be used. Herbs and seasonings depend on the desired flavor, as do types of cheese and sauces.
Preparation of a chicken broccoli casserole may differ among recipes, but typically involves layering the chopped meat with the vegetable crowns. Broccoli is often mixed in with wet ingredients and seasonings, or the sauce may be spooned over the layers on its own. While the vegetables may be cooked ahead of casserole baking, adding them raw helps them keep their nutritional value and their crunchy texture.