Well, I braved the grocery store even though we were facing a winter storm warning, which always causes a mad rush. My reward to myself for grocery shopping among the weather-panicked masses was a comfort food dinner of Poppy Seed Chicken, and it was the perfect food for a cold and rainy night that’s quickly turning into an even colder and icy/snowy night. This classic chicken dish with a buttery mixture of Ritz crackers and poppy seed on top is great for serving a crowd… just be sure to make plenty because people will be going back for seconds!
6-8 chicken breasts
chicken broth for cooking chicken
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I like to use one low fat and one regular can)
one sleeve of Ritz crackers
1 tablespoon poppy seed
1/2-1 stick of butter
Cook chicken breasts. I usually buy boneless skinless breasts to make it easier on myself. Bring chicken broth to a boil on the stovetop. Add chicken to broth and turn heat down to get the chicken broth to a low simmer – just moving, but not bubbling a lot.
Place lid on pot and cook chicken for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is white all the way through. If you use chicken strips, they will be ready earlier, probably after 10-15 minutes. If you’re using bone-in chicken pieces such as leg quarters, it will take longer – closer to 45 minutes. I like to cook extra chicken to really stuff the casserole with chicken and then use the leftover chicken for homemade chicken salad.
Debone chicken breasts (if not using boneless) and cut them into small chunks.
Heat cream cheese and cream of chicken soup until melted enough to be easily mixed together.
Mix chicken into cream cheese/soup mixture. Place in 9×13 casserole dish or spread out into smaller dishes.
If I’m not cooking the casserole right away, at this point I cover the dish in foil and place in refrigerator until ready to bake (not more than a day or so later).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection). Crumble one sleeve of Ritz crackers and mix with poppy seed.
Sprinkle mixture over casserole.
Melt butter and drizzle over the cracker topping. The original recipe calls for an entire stick of butter, but you can definitely cut back on this and still have a delicious casserole.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly. If you’re using smaller casserole dishes like I did, this will be closer to 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.
The Story: When I was in college, this dish was a favorite at my sorority house. Despite the obsession with low fat everything, the attendance at Poppy Seed Chicken dinners was always high. This recipe came to mind because one of my college roommates just had her third baby, and I believe this is the dish I took to her as a nostalgic comfort food dinner when she had her first baby several years ago. So Ady, this one was inspired by you and baby James!