February 17, 2018

best ever poppyseed chicken

Listen to me. I don't use the term "best ever" lightly when I'm titling recipes for fear that y'all might not believe me when I really mean it. So I reserve it for the best of the best. And this chicken poppyseed casserole is the best of the best OF THE BEST. First of all, who doesn't love the chicken poppyseed casserole of our youth featuring canned soup and buttery crackers? This casserole has all of that tender chicken and creaminess with the cracker-y crunch that we hold dear, but it's swimming in a homemade cream sauce that is as easy as can be! And the cracker-y topping is the best version of itself with seasoned crackers, grated parmesan cheese (because why on earth not?) and little extra butter. 

If you've been around here long, you know I toot the horn of making and sharing food. So this dish is one that is so simple to stir up, pour into an aluminum throw-away pan, and send to someone who could feel loved by it. When I'm sending this dish, I cover the creamy chicken mixture in the pan, and I send the crunched up crackers and the grated parmesan in little zip-top bags. Always include instructions for how to top the mixture and how long to bake it! Send it with a few cups of cooked white rice, a pretty grocery store salad, a pan of yummy dinner rolls, and something sweet! This Best Every Poppyseed Chicken will "Love Welcome Serve" with the best of them!

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makes 4-6 servings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
8 ounces sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup frozen peas, optional
Butter to grease the dish
2-3 cups cooked white rice

-for the topping-
1 sleeve of round "Everything" flavored Ritz crackers, crushed 
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
chopped parsley for garnish

Lay the chicken breasts in the bottom of a wide saucepan, cover with cold water by one inch, season water with 3 teaspoons of salt. Cover the pan with a tilted lid, turn the heat medium high, and bring to a boil. Allow chicken to boil for about 5 minutes; then reduce the heat to medium low and let the chicken simmer for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the chicken from pan, and use two forks to shred the chicken. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F. In a braiser or large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauce the onion for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the garlic, and stir for only a minute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Stir in the flour, coating the onions and garlic, making a clumpy mixture. Then whisk in the milk, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock. Stir until the mixture just begins to simmer. Then add in the sour cream and cream cheese, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat, and add salt, pepper, and poppy seeds. Stir in the chicken and add peas if desired. Butter a 2qt casserole and spread the mixture in the pan. Top with crushed crackers, drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 15-18 minutes or until crackers are golden and the filling is bubbly. Garnish with parsley and serve over rice!

Adapted recipe from Creme de la Crumb

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