Every so often you come across a recipe that’s an instant favorite and this is one of those for my kids. They all love this Creamy Broccoli Casserole! It’s their favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner and I always have to double the recipe so no one gets left out.
We eat broccoli very often but usually just steamed with salt and butter or roasted. This recipe includes a cream cheese sauce and is topped with breadcrumbs before baking so it’s a bit more involved than I usually do for a side dish. I guess that’s what makes it special though.
Thoughts on Cream Sauce
The rule of thumb for white sauce or cream sauce is a tablespoon of fat, typically butter, melted and mixed with a tablespoon of flour. When that roux is smooth and bubbly, you add a cup of liquid. As soon as it’s simmering and thick, you are done. The liquid you use depends on what you are making. White sauce calls for milk. Other sauces use broth and may have milk or cream added to them.
Over the years I started making mine without butter. I just mix the flour directly into the cold liquid in a pan and stir while it comes to a simmer. Usually I’m adding cheese or something else yummy so the extra butter just seemed unnecessary. This recipe has extra flour in it to compensate for any water from the steamed broccoli.
Now on to the recipe. Tips and tricks will follow.
Creamy Broccoli Casserole Recipe
- 3 to 4 large broccoli crowns, and/or cauliflower
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut broccoli (and cauliflower) into florets and chop stems into bit-sized pieces, discarding the tough ends. Steam broccoli in a small amount of water until just tender. You want to use a small amount of water to steam it, I use just enough to keep it from burning. If you have too much water, the sauce will be thin. You definitely don’t want that! Season the broccoli (and cauliflower) with salt.
While the broccoli (and cauliflower) is steaming, you can start on the cream sauce. Mix the flour and milk in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When it is thick and smooth add the cream cheese and whisk to blend.
Tip the vegetables into a buttered baking dish and pour the cream cheese sauce over. Stir gently to coat all the broccoli in the sauce and spread out to an even layer. Melt the butter and mix with the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the delicious broccoli sauce yumminess. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are crisp and golden.
Tips and Tricks
- As you can see you can substitute cauliflower for part of the broccoli.
- I make breadcrumbs with leftover sourdough bread. Break up 4 or 5 slices of bread into the bowl of a food processor, add 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt. Pulse until you get the size of breadcrumbs you need. This is a great way to use up stale bread and extra breadcrumbs store perfectly in the freezer.
- You can roast the broccoli instead of steaming if you like. I roast broccoli and cauliflower for 20 to 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven then proceed with the recipe.
- To make ahead I cut up and cook the broccoli a day or two ahead and make the sauce the day I’m serving it. The breadcrumbs can be made ahead and frozen.
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