Today I'm going to share with you one of our family's favorites - Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake. The name and the basic idea came to us in all its deliciousness during the first year of our marriage from our lovely friend Tonya.
The original recipe called for taking canned crescent roll dough, separating the triangles, placing some chicken and some cheese on each one, rolling them up individually, and using cream of chicken soup on the bottom and top of them in pan, with more cheese on top. Yum!
However, as our family grew, I made this scrumptiousness less and less often, because filling and rolling all those individual crescents took way too much time. Laziness is the mother of invention, they say. So I turned it into a layered dish. Then, when Dad and Mom Smith moved in with us, I learned to make the sauce from scratch (MSG allergy = no "cream of" soups). And one day I got adventurous and made the crescent roll dough myself! So the whole thing has changed quite a bit, but it remains a family favorite (and, if I may be so bold, I think it's better loved from scratch than in any of its other forms).
Enough of the talk! Let's cook!
Approx. 3# chicken (it can be a whole chicken, a few pounds of boneless skinless breasts, or anything in between)
1 stick butter
2/3 c flour
1 onion, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
5 cups both/milk combination (the broth will come from cooking the chicken breasts)
At least 1 pound of cheddar cheese (preferably sharp)
Either a couple cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough or a batch of this fabulous crescent roll dough (I suggest the latter, unless you're very short on time. Because of what we're doing with the dough, it's quite forgiving if you don't get it "just right."
To begin, boil the chicken in just enough water to cover it.
If you're making crescent roll dough, start that now. If not, go read your favorite blogs. Or, if you must, do something responsible!
Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool enough so that you can handle it, then de-bone (if needed) and chop or tear it up.
Drain the broth into a measuring cup (or a half gallon jar with measurements marked on the side) and add milk to make 5 cups. If you already have 5 or more cups of broth, set some aside for another time and make room for some milk!
Now begin making the sauce (we'll use an adapted version of my Good Gravy! recipe. If you're not familiar with Good Gravy! you can find more detailed directions there.
Melt a stick of butter in a good sized pan, then saute the chopped onion (and, once the onion's gotten started, the garlic) until translucent. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and cook to make roux.
Slowly add your 5 cups of liquid, stirring constantly, and continue to stir constantly until it has boiled for a minute or so. This will take ages, so you might want to employ one of your favorite kitchen assistants to stir for you. (If you take a picture of said assistant, be sure you crop out any dirty ears before you post the picture online. There's keepin' it real, and then there's yucky. You've got to know where to draw the line.)
Once the sauce is ready, it's time for assembly!
First in the pan is a layer of sauce (about a third)
Then half of the dough, rolled out to fit the pan. Or, if you're using canned, spread out one can of crescent rolls to make a layer of dough. It's fine if the area is not completely covered.
Next comes the second third of sauce, topped by a layer of cheese
And the chicken!
A layer of cheese
The other half of the dough
A last layer of sauce, covered by a last layer of cheese.
Bake at 350' for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.