Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

This dish was all about leftovers.  I had leftover ham and rice in the fridge and I needed something that would give us leftovers for the rest of the week.  This casserole certainly did the trick, and it tasted great too.

Jacques Pepin taught me a trick about broccoli.  When you buy it fresh, don't throw away the stalk.  Just peel or cut off the rough outside skin of the stalk to expose the insides.  Once cooked, the tender stalk pieces are my favorite part of the broccoli (and Jacques')!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: 6 servings

1 pound fresh broccoli (about 4 cups), chopped
Salt for blanching water
2 cups cooked ham, chopped
1 cup cooked rice
1/3 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cream
1 cup milk
2 to 3 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fine ground black pepper)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the broccoli and boil for 3-5 minutes or until just tender enough so that a fork can easily pierce the floret, but still firm. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

While the water in step one is coming to a boil, cook the bacon pieces on medium heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs into the flour, then whisk in the cream and milk. Add the black pepper (more or less to taste), salt, and mustard. Mix in about a third of the cheese.

Place the parboiled broccoli florets in the casserole dish, sprinkling about a third of the cheese over the broccoli as you lay them down. Sprinkle the ham and rice over the broccoli. Pour the egg, cream, milk, cheese mixture over the broccoli, moving the broccoli pieces a bit so that the mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until set. Once the top has browned, you may want to tent with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

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