The ability to make a nice pan gravy or pan sauce can elevate some of the simplest dishes to new heights. I took a relatively simple and classic chicken, broccoli and rice casserole and add in some cheese and pan sauce to make this Baked Chicken & Rice. It has so much flavor and all the different textures really help make it a special meal that can be made easily on a weeknight.
Sometimes people get so shy about making their own sauces and gravies. I used to be leery of it too, because it is definitely a skill, but one that you can easily master with practice. What I have learned is that it’s all in the roux at the start. You need a fat of some sort (oil, grease, lard, butter, etc.) and a starch (AP flour, cornstarch, almond flour). I usually go with a combination of grease (when I have pan fried the meat of the dish, be in chicken, or bacon or whatever) and a little more butter for my fat component. And depending on who I am feeding, I tend to use AP flour most often, but almond flour really does work as long as it’s ground fine enough. The next key step is gradually adding the remaining ingredients. If you go too fast the roux can’t keep up and breaks, leaving the sauce to never thicken.
For this particular recipe, I decided on a partial bake to give the rice a chance to really get cooked through. The mid-cook stir also helps the melted cream cheese combine more thoroughly with the rest of the dish. It also helps to make sure that the broccoli cooks evenly. While it requires more attentiveness than some of my recipes, it is worth the extra effort.
I did not serve this with anything extra but I do think my family would have liked a soft roll to sop up the pan gravy (they literally used all of it, lol). Since the casserole has the rice, chicken and broccoli all together, I don’t think a side is necessarily needed.
Now Let’s Get Cookin’!
Baked Chicken & Rice
- 2 cups Long Grain Rice
- 1 qt Chicken Broth
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese finely shredded
- 2 cups Broccoli chopped
- 1 tbsp Dried Minced Onion
- 8 oz Cream Cheese cut into 1-inch chunks
For the Chicken
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Salt
- 6 Chicken Thighs bone-in, skin removed
For the Pan Gravy
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 cups Chicken Broth
- Preheat oven to 375degF
- Combine rice, chicken broth, broccoli, onion, cream cheese and shredded cheese in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Combine seasonings for chickens and sprinkle evenly over both sides of chicken. Add oil to large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook each piece of chicken on each side for 4 minutes. Cook in batches if you need to. Do not clean out pan when done but remove from heat.
- Remove baking dish from oven and stir to combine. Place chicken in a single layer over and return to oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- In the last 15 minutes of bake time, return saute pan to medium heat. Add butter, garlic powder and thyme. Once melted, whisk in flour and let cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and salt. Cook for another 4 minutes then reduce heat to simmer until chicken and rice is taken out of oven.
- Serve a portion of rice and broccoli with a piece of chicken. Ladle pan gravy over top of chicken.
Estelle Forrest’s self-published first cookbook – Homemade on a Weeknight: A Family Cookbook – was created after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:
Estelle self-published a second cookbook – Burgers on a Weeknight – recently. It has over 60 delicious burger creations! You can purchase your own copy here:
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