Since I was in charge of bringing some type of broccoli casserole to Thanksgiving this year, I searched high and low for a recipe that could be made in advance (since we had to drive 2 hours that day) and that most people would like.
I came across Pioneer Woman’s Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole recipe. I mean, a Pioneer Woman recipe has never served me wrong so I thought it was a no brainer. Well, I’m glad I gave it a trial run before making it for Thanksgiving because, well, I didn’t like it. (Please note-the pictures in this post are from when I made it the FIRST time. I have since tweaked it so if you make it, it may look a bit different).
I made quite a few changes to the recipe. First of all, the original recipe was WAY too much rice. I also felt like it needed more broccoli and veggies so I upped the amount of broccoli and added in some cauliflower. With a few other tweaks, I got the recipe to be where I wanted it. I thought it was pretty dang good! I felt confident about the dish I was bringing (and that felt somewhat representative of my cooking abilities to my in-laws).
Well, pride comes before the fall, my friends. I probably should have known that at a large Thanksgiving, people have LOTS of options and little space on their plate. When a broccoli and rice casserole is competing with cheesy twice baked potatoes, buttery rolls, three different types of turkey and so on, it pretty much doesn’t stand a chance. It just wasn’t fair to put the broccoli casserole to caramelized sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Or maybe I’m making excuses. I don’t know. For one reason or not, the broccoli casserole was not a hit. Just being real here.
Despite the majority of the crowds turning their nose at it, I stand by my recipe. I liked it and think it is worth sharing. It was full of flavor, filled with seasoned veggies, and made a great side dish. If you’re a broccoli and rice lover like me, you’ll probably like it too.
Ready or not, here is how to make Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole.
Preheat oven to 375.
Time to get that wild rice cooking. Combine rice with 4-5 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until rice begins to break open. Mine took about 35-40 minutes, but follow the instructions on the package. As I mentioned above, the pictures I have are not necessarily representative of what it should look like. I used half of the rice in the picture below AND this rice should have cooked a bit more.
Once the rice is cooked, set it aside or go ahead and spread it out in a 9×13 casserole dish.
Meanwhile, get to chopping up all of those veggies. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Finely chop the other veggies up. This recipe does have a lot of chopping to do so use a food chopper if you have one! Otherwise, give your forearms a pep talk because they are about to get a workout.
To make sure your broccoli gets cooked, you’re going to need to give it a head start. This means cooking it in boiling water for a minute or two then blanching it (removing it from the boiling water and plunging it into icy water to stop the cooking process). After this step, spread it out evenly over your wild rice.
Now it’s time to make the good stuff. In a large pot, melt about 6 tablespoons of butter and then toss all the rest of your diced veggies in with it. Stir frequently for about 8 minutes until they are softening and turning a bit darker.
Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables and stir to incorporate it, then cook for about a minute. Pour in the remaining 5 cups of broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Let the mixture cook until it thickens. Season with the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Using a ladle, scoop out the vegetable/broth mixture and spoon it evenly all over the top. Continue with the rest of the sauce, totally covering the surface with vegetables.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine in separate bowl with the panko breadcrumbs. Toss the mixture together to coat the breadcrumbs in butter, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top.
Cover with foil and bake your casserole for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more until the breadcrumbs brown a bit.
- 1 cup uncooked Wild Rice
- 10 cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth, more If needed for thinning
- ½ cup (1 Stick) Butter
- 4 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 package (8oz) white mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1.5 cup cauliflower, finely chopped
- 1 whole medium onion, finely diced
- 2 whole carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Start cooking your wild rice. Combine 4-5 cups chicken broth with wild rice. Bring to a boil (follow the cooking instructions that are on the wild rice package or cook the rice until it has just started to break open and is slightly tender). Mine took about 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli by throwing the florets into boiling water for 1½ to 2 minutes. Immediately drain and plunge it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove it from the ice water and set it aside.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, then melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add all of your vegetables and cook them, stirring frequently for about 7-8 minutes. When they start to soften and turn a bit brown, they are done.
- Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables and stir to incorporate. Then cook for about a minute. Pour in the remaining 5 cups of broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Let the mixture cook until it thickens. Season with the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Add the cooked rice to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, then layer on the broccoli. Using a ladle, scoop out the vegetable/broth mixture and spoon it evenly all over the top. Continue with the rest of the sauce, totally covering the surface with vegetables.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine in separate bowl with the panko breadcrumbs. Toss the mixture together to coat the breadcrumbs in butter, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top.
- Cover with foil and bake the casserole at 375 for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Optional: sprinkle on the parsley after you remove it from the oven.
Follow steps 1-6. Freeze before cooking.
When ready to cook, let thaw completely and follow step 7.