I don’t keep canned soups or other convenience foods in the house, so I make my cheesy broccoli casserole from scratch and it’s worth it!
Ah, the casserole. Casseroles are the hallmark of every Southern potluck, and I suspect lots of potlucks outside of the South as well. Honestly, reading casserole recipes makes me wonder if casseroles even existed before the days of the ubiquitous red and white soup can made by a company that shall remain unnamed…you must admit that every casserole seems to contain cream-of-something. Over the last several years, though, I have made it my mission to make all the casseroles that I grew up with-leaving out the cream-of-whatever soup. Broccoli casserole from scratch? Success.
Since I started this foray into being a blog with a Southern food focus, I’ve started reading some books and blogs about Southern food and have found that one thing that a lot of writers and bloggers are adamant about is doing things the traditional way, which means that if your grandmother made it with canned soup then you should make it with canned soup.
I don’t see things that way, though. I mean, if you are pressed for time or you just don’t have the desire to make it from scratch, then by all means open a can. This is a no-judgment zone, my friends. However, I think that goes both ways and I think that there’s not a darned casserole on earth that can’t be amped up by sautéing some mushrooms and onions in butter, making a roux, and mixing in some chicken stock or some milk. And if you want to start it with some bacon? More power to you. One thing I feel pretty strongly about is that using fresh, not frozen or canned, vegetables is never a bad thing and may change a casserole hater into a casserole lover.
If you really want to get sassy with this casserole, you could use panko bread crumbs instead of the crushed Ritz crackers, but I love that buttery texture with the creamy casserole so I stuck with tradition there. The awesome thing is that you can save yourself a dish and just bake the casserole right in the pan you used to make the roux.
The important thing is for you to make this broccoli casserole from scratch and see how delicious it is!
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 hrTotal Time:
- heads broccoli, cut into small florets and stems diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 strips bacon, diced (omit bacon and start the recipe with 1 tablespoon of butter to make this a vegetarian dish)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 4 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, halved and sliced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk or half-and-half
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 ounces (1 1/4 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2-1 cup crushed butter (Ritz or Townhouse) crackers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam the broccoli in a large pot to desired tenderness and set aside.
- Cook the bacon until almost crisp in a 9-10 inch skillet (if you have an oven-proof skillet you can use it to bake the casserole as well). Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender.
- Make the roux: add the butter to the skillet and stir until melted. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook for about a minute then slowly add the milk or half and half, stirring constantly to incorporate. Cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the broccoli, mushroom roux, mayonnaise, egg, and 4 ounces (1 cup) of the cheese in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings then pour back into skillet or into an 8-inch baking dish or 9-inch Pyrex pie pan.
- Sprinkle the cracker crumbs and the remaining cheese over the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes and serve while hot.