There’s nothing complex about poppy seed chicken. If you’ve made it once, you’ve probably memorized the recipe. The only reason I’m blogging it is because a lot of people think it’s labor-intensive. It doesn’t have to be. As long as you have a stand mixer and a little time, it’s one of the easiest meals you can make, even if it’s not one of the healthiest. This version is based on my mother-in-law’s recipe.
Stand Mixer Poppy Seed Chicken
- 3-4 chicken breasts (depending on the size)
- 1 can chicken stock
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
- 8 oz sour cream
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
This is one of the wife’s favorite casseroles. It’s more like a thick chicken dip than anything else. What usually makes it labor-intensive is the shredding of the chicken. But, as I discussed in my chicken pot pie post, that’s an unnecessary step. If you have a stand mixer, it’ll do all of the work for you.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the chicken breasts in a 9 x 9 baking dish and just cover with chicken stock. Back uncovered for 40 minutes, turning once. You could do this in water, but I think the stock adds a little flavor. When the chicken goes into the oven, put the stick of butter out on the kitchen counter to soften.
When the chicken is finished cooking, drop the breasts into the stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. Do this while they’re hot. Lock the hinge and set the mixer to 2. It’ll jostle for a while and then settle down. It may splatter a little bit at first, so hold a kitchen towel up to the top of the bowl for a few seconds.
While the mixer is shredding your chicken, turn the oven down to 350°. Put half of the butter in a 10-inch pan over medium-high heat. While it’s melting, crumble the Ritz crackers. I usually drop the whole sleeve on the ground and crush gently it with my heel. You have to be very careful not to burst the envelope or cracker crumbs will spill all over the place. Add the crumbs to the pan with the butter and shake until all of the crumbs are wet.
Add the rest of the butter (4 tablespoons), cream of chicken soup, sour cream, salt, pepper, and a couple of tablespoons of the chicken stock to the mixer bowl and increase the speed to 4. Meanwhile, shake your pan of cracker crumbs to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Pour the stock out of the baking pan, but you don’t need to wash it. When the chicken and sauce is incorporated evenly, pour the mixture into the still-warm baking dish. Top with the toasted cracker crumbs and sprinkle the poppy seeds evenly over the crackers.
Bake, covered, in a 350° oven for at least 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last few minutes to crisp the top. If you do this right, you’ll only be actively preparing the dish for maybe four minutes. You’ll have a pan and a mixing bowl to clean, and that’s it. How easy is that? Serve alone or with salad and bread.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, then use a large food processor. In a worst-case scenario, you can shred the chicken with two forks. Hot, creamy, homemade poppy seed chicken will go a long way toward soothing the cramps that’ll plague your hands.
Once you realize how easy it is to shred meats in the stand mixer, you’ll feel like a fool for ever doing it the hard way. My BBQ pulled pork goes straight from the smoker to the stand mixer for shredding, Carolina-style, and then onto the serving tray with a little mustard-based sauce.