Saturday, March 29, 2014

Alice Springs Chicken Casserole (Low-Carb, Freezer-Friendly)

Alice Springs Chicken Casserole
My brother-in-law Kelly's version of Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse.

(Recipe updated to a smaller and lighter version with better photos and step-by-step instructions, March 2014.)  At Outback Steak House there's a dish called Alice Springs Chicken. made of chicken breasts topped with bacon, mushrooms, cheese and a creamy sauce. My brother-in-law Kelly re-created it back on 2006, and I used his version as the inspiration for Alice Springs Chicken Casserole in the early days of my blog. The casserole is definitely is a delicious combination of flavors, but my food preferences have changed since then, and now I wouldn't normally make a casserole that uses bottled Alfredo sauce.  But the recipe has quite a few fans, and the original photo was pretty horrible, so recently I re-did this recipe with new photos, making a smaller version of the recipe that's a bit lighter than the one my brother-in-law came up with.  If bottled Alfredo sauce is a deal-breaker for you, I think it would be fun to try this with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce, something that's been on my to-try list for ages now, and using the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce would also make this gluten-free. If anyone tries that option, I'd love to hear how it works!

Trim four chicken breasts and cut each in half lengthwise.

Cook the chicken in barely-simmering stock with a few herbs added until chicken is cooked through.  Let cool.

When it's cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks and layer in the bottom of a 12 cup casserole dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray.  (I used my favorite Anchor Hocking 12 Cup Bake and Store Casserole Dish.)

While the chicken cooks, wash mushrooms, thickly slice, and saute in a tiny amount of olive oil until the mushrooms are browned.  Layer the mushrooms over the chicken.

I used 4 oz. of lean ham, but chopped Canadian bacon would also be good here.  Saute the ham until it's slightly browned to bring out the flavor, then layer that over the mushrooms.

My original version of this had a tablespoon of flour, but this time I skipped the flour and mixed a little reduced-fat sour cream with the Alfredo Sauce.  (Look for the lowest-carb Alfredo sauce you can find; some are much lower than others.)

Pour the sauce over the chicken, mushrooms, and ham.

Sprinkle with a little reduced-fat grated Mozzarella and reduced-fat 3 cheese blend.

Bake about 20 minutes covered, or until the cheese is mostly melted.

Uncover and bake about 20-25 minutes more, or until the top is nicely browned.

And oh my, here's the original photo of this recipe from 2006!


Alice Springs Chicken Casserole
(Makes  4-6 servings, recipe inspired by a version of Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken created by my brother-in-law Kelly)

Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
stock or water for cooking chicken, enough to cover
(I used water with some Better than Bouillon Organic Low-Sodium Chicken Base.)
1/4 tsp. dried sage (for cooking chicken)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (for cooking chicken)
1/4 tsp. onion powder (for cooking chicken)
1 pound brown mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
4 oz. lean ham or Canadian Bacon, diced small
1 jar (14 - 15 oz.) Alfredo sauce (Check labels and use the sauce with the lowest carbs you can find.)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated reduced-fat Four-Cheese Mexican blend

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Spray three-quart casserole dish with  olive oil or non-stick spray.   (I used my favorite Anchor Hocking 12 Cup Bake and Store Casserole Dish.)

Cook chicken breasts in barely simmering stock (or water with chicken soup base) plus thyme, sage and onion powder until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.  Let chicken cool, then pull apart into bite sized pieces and layer in bottom of casserole dish.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and saute mushrooms until all water has been released and mushrooms are lightly browned, then layer mushrooms on top of chicken.  In same frying pan, saute diced lean ham or Canadian bacon a few minutes, just to release flavor and slightly crisp it. Layer Canadian Bacon on top of mushrooms.

Whisk together the Alfredo Sauce and sour cream, then pour sauce over the mixture in casserole dish, letting sauce run down to bottom of pan.  Sprinkle over the Mozzarella and Four-Cheese Mexican Blend.

Cover with the lid (or foil if your casserole dish doesn't have a lid) and bake about 20 minutes, until the cheese is mostly melted. Uncover, and bake another 20-25 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned and casserole is bubbly.  Serve hot.  This freezes well and can be reheated in a microwave or in a pan on the stove.



South Beach Suggestions:
Even if you use the lowest carb Alfredo sauce you can find, reduced-fat cheese, and lean ham, this is definitely a "once-in-a-while-treat" for the South Beach Diet.  Most bottled Alfredo sauce has flour or cornstarch, although in small amounts, so this is probably best for Phase 2 or 3 if you're actively trying to lose weight.  Serve it with low-glycemic choices like Georgette's Greek Zucchini or Roasted Broccoli with Garlic.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Lower-Carb Casseroles to Try:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Green Chile and Chicken Mock Enchilada Casserole ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole ~ I Breathe I'm Hungry
Layered Mexican Casserole with Chicken, Green Chiles, Pinto Beans, and Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Zucchini Sausage Breakfast Bake ~ All Day I Dream About Food
Baked Pesto Chicken ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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21 comments:

  1. That looks absolutely delicious!

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  2. holy moly too much eye candy. both of those dishes look incredible.
    i'm huuuuuungry now!

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  3. MM and Mona, I had some for lunch today and it was delicious!

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  4. I made this tonight, and it was delicious! Loved it, loved it, loved it.

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  5. Thanks for the instructions on how to print.......I think I have it now.......appreciate you more than you know........

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  6. Nancy, so glad it's working for you now, and thanks for appreciating me.

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  7. This sounds delish! I think I'm going to try it with a "healthy" Alfredo sauce recipe I have (roasted garlic, chicken stock, fat free half and half, and Parmesan - tastes just as good as the real thing!) so that I can eat it more often! Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

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  8. I've seen this on the menu at Outback but have never tried it. Your version looks delicious! It's incredible how far your photography skills have come. Love that you included the old photo! It's fun to look back.

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  9. Valerie, so glad you like it. And yes, my photography has definitely improved!

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  10. Well, I've never eaten at an Outback, but I can't imagine they make this dish taste any better than it looks in your photos. Yum!

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  11. Thanks Lydia. I can't say I am a big fan of steakhouse chains, but Outback is really quite good, high quality and consistently delicious.

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  12. if you were to freeze this, would you cook it first or freeze it and cook it after thawing?

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  13. I would cook first and then freeze, either in individual-serving portions or in a casserole dish, ready to be reheated. For best results, thaw before reheating and then either micorwave or bake.

    It might work fine to freeze before cooking, but I've never done casseroles that way.

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  14. Kalyn, I made a batch of your creamy cauliflower-mushroom soup earlier in the week. How do you think it might sub for the alfredo sauce? I know the color would be a little darker, but I'm thinking "yum!"

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  15. A great casserole that made nice work lunches. Thank you!

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  16. DLAOKC, I think that soup might be great as a sauce.

    Anna, so glad you like it!

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  17. I have this in the oven right now and think its gonna be a great addition to my freezer stash of meals even if the outback steakhouse menu names makes me shake my head a little.

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  18. I tried your suggestion of using the creamy cauliflower sauce and it was delicious!!! It was so creamy, you would not have known the sauce was made from cauliflower!

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  19. Vivzilla, feel free to name it whatever you'd like, no worries!

    Christine, I'm thinking I must make that cauliflower sauce ASAP!

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  20. I made the casserole twice with the cauliflower sauce. The first time I made it with the addition of the sour cream and it was somewhat watery and the second time without and it was not watery at all. I did add diced asparagus for some color and taste. Both times the casserole was heavenly. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

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  21. Susan, thanks for sharing those tips, and I still have not made the cauliflower sauce; need to do it!

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