My dad was a world traveler. He was a Port and Chief Engineer on cargo ships and went where the ship took him. Wasn’t he a handsome devil? Needless to say, he sampled many different cuisines. I’m sure it was because of my parents’ adventurous palates and insistence that we eat the same meal they did, that made my brother and me into the daring eaters we are today. That is why it makes it all the sweeter to know that even though my dad had dishes from around the world, the food he preferred the most, above everything else, was a home cooked meal.
So, in honor of my dad, I am making a dish that he liked “especially”. He must have made a big stink over it to have my mom make a note of it on the recipe card.
It all begins with butter, as do all the best recipes. Butter the casserole dish and scoop in the artichoke hearts. You can cook your own, but why should you when you can get them all done up and ready to go in a can? I opted to use marinated artichoke hearts, since I had a large jar on hand. I drained them before placing them in the dish, but did not butter the dish because there was plenty of oil on the marinated artichoke hearts. The dish was sad about this decision, as was Paula Deen, but we worked it out. I cut up some chicken I had cooked earlier and sprinkled it over the artichoke hearts in the casserole dish.
Before I sautéd the mushrooms, I made the white sauce. I had absolutely no idea what a white sauce was made up of and by the blasé nature of the listing of the sauce in the recipe as if everyone and their mother should know exactly what they were talking about, I quickly went to the internet. Hint: It is butter, flour and milk. (Salt and pepper to taste.) I found a nice and easy recipe for white sauce and went to work. When I got it to the simmer stage of the sauce, I let it do its thing and turned to the mushrooms, putting them in a frying pan with the melted butter and sautéd them. The timing worked out really nicely. By the time I had spread the mushrooms out over the chicken and artichokes in the casserole dish, the white sauce was ready.
The white sauce looked pretty……gross….. and I tried it and guess what? It tasted like it looked. Maybe I was expecting too much out of flour, milk and butter. I saw that the recipe called for me to mix in the Worcestershire and sherry before I poured it over the casserole, thus turning it into a tan sauce, BTW. I mixed and tasted, just to make sure. HOLY COW. I could have taken an entire loaf of crusty French bread and dipped it in that sauce until both were gone, but I didn’t because that would have been disgusting, right? I mean, who would do that? (Ok, the reality was that I didn’t have any French bread or else this post would have stopped right here).
Pour the amazing, flavorful and delightfully sherry-filled sauce over the casserole. Top with the parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of paprika and place it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.
You could take the casserole out when ready and gobble it up just like that, but I couldn’t waste the opportunity to utilize every bit of that amazing sauce. I figured this would be super tasty over rice or buttered noodles. Earlier, I poached my chicken in salted water with onion, garlic, oregano and salt. Once I removed the cooked chicken, I set the pot of water aside to use as the boiling water to prepare my egg noodles, thus giving the noodles a richer flavor. I buttered the noodles a bit, once I drained them, and created a buttery bed of them at the bottom of my plate.
The casserole was beautifully golden and smelled rich and heavenly out of the oven. I couldn’t even wait for it to cool. I ladled it onto the noodles and dove right in. I see why my dad must have liked it. It had a few simple ingredients that created complex flavors. It was rich and buttery, bright and comforting. Sherry and Worcestershire were the secret power ingredients and totally made the dish a knock out. I think I will put those two in everything I make from now on. It’s a sure thing.
Chicken and Artichoke Casserole
- 5 c. cooked artichoke hearts (or marinated artichoke hearts worked just fine)
- 6 c. cooked chicken, cut in pieces
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 c. medium white sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 c. dry sherry
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
- Arrange artichokes in bottom of a buttered large casserole dish.
- Spread chicken pieces on top.
- Sauté mushrooms in butter for 6 minutes and place on top of chicken.
- Season white sauce to taste, add Worcestershire sauce and sherry.
- Pour over ingredients in casserole.
- Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.
- Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley.