Most of the time, I’m relieved to have been born too late to end up a housewife in the 1950s or ’60s, but when it comes to cooking, I’m all about the casseroles that were so popular during that era. For Sunday night comfort food, nothing beats a 9 × 13–inch glass dish filled to the brim with meat and veggies, with some kind of bubbling cheese crust on top. So when I came across this recipe for chicken and broccoli casserole in my go-to food magazine, Cooking Light, a few years ago, I had to try it.
Although I consider myself an adventurous cook and don’t often make the same dish more than once or twice, this one has become an old standby for me on cold nights when I’m craving something warm and filling. To say this casserole is creamy is the understatement of the century; it has sour cream, evaporated milk, mayonnaise, and condensed cream of mushroom soup as its base. (I know, I know, it sounds borderline gross.) You’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s anything but. The great thing about Cooking Light is that it suggests all kinds of healthier alternatives to my favorite “bad” ingredients without requiring me to sacrifice flavor. Prepared the magazine’s way, one serving of this recipe contains only 7.8 grams of fat—which means I can eat dessert without vomiting or feeling paralyzed with guilt.
This dish is also a nice way to, um, feed my obsession with Mad Men: I like to think it’s something Betty Draper might whip up for Don in her beautiful kitchen. Of course, I don’t chug gimlets and chain-smoke cigarettes like the hedonistic Betty would while I’m making it, but she’d probably think I was a total yahoo for using fat-free mayo, so we’re even.
Next in the My Go-to Dish Series: Snobby Joes, Santillano-Style
Recipe: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
The Drinks of Mad Men
Pass the Mac-n-Cheese, Please: Why Comfort Food Works
Switcheroo: Healthy Alternatives for Bad-for-You Foods