2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb chicken thigh, cut into bite size pieces (Note 1)
2 1/2 tbsp flour (or 1 1/2 tbsp. cornflour / cornstarch)
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups white rice, uncooked (Note 2)
1 tsp dried thyme (or other herb of choice)
Salt and pepper
1 large head of broccoli, broken / cut into small florets (Note 3)
2 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar (or other cheese of choice) (Note 4)
Finely chopped parsley, optional garnish
Melt butter and heat oil in a pot over high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until it changes from pink to white. (Note 5)
Turn stove DOWN to medium. Add flour and stir for 1 minute.
Add half the milk, stirring as you go, and once incorporated into the flour add the rest of the milk and stir.
Add broth, rice, thyme and a just pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir, bring to simmer, then cover. Turn down to medium low and cook for 12 minutes.
Remove lid – there should still be liquid on the surface. Working quickly, add broccoli, push down so it’s partly submerged, cover and cook for a further 3 minutes until broccoli is just cooked.
Preheat grill/broiler. Remove lid and stir through half the cheese – don’t worry if it looks a bit too saucy, excess liquid gets sucked up in minutes (see video below). Smooth surface, top with remaining cheese. Grill/broil until melted (or just put lid on and allow to melt with residual heat on turned off stove).
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired.
1. Chicken: Thigh is better than breast because it’s fattier so they don’t dry out. This recipe would also work great with ground meat.
2. Rice: Long grain and medium grain rice are ideal in this because they are less “sticky” than short grain rice so it makes this come out like a creamy risotto. But it will work with short grain rice too. This will also work fine with basmati and jasmine rice, though you will get the added fragrance from these rices. I have not tried this with brown rice but it should work but it will take around 40 minutes to cook on low heat, then add the broccoli right at the end. You may need to top up with a bit of extra water.
Do not use risotto or paella rice – the liquid ratios in this recipe are not suited to these. I also have not tried this with quinoa, cauliflower rice or any non-rice alternatives.
3. Frozen Broccoli is fine to use in this recipe, but thaw first and ensure all excess liquid is drained.
4. Any melting cheese is fine for this recipe.
5. It’s great if you can get some colour on it but don’t cook it all the way through and don’t let the base of the pot go too brown (discolours the sauce).
6. Leftovers/make Ahead: This reheats much better than most rice casseroles because it’s nice and saucy, just keep it in the fridge. For make ahead, stop at the point after you stir the cheese in, cover and let it cool. Then sprinkle with cheese on top, refrigerate, then microwave to reheat / melt the cheese. I think this is the freshest way to make ahead.