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Leftovers: Chicken broccoli braid has stood the test of time

Now is a perfect time for chicken broccoli braid with holiday crowds to feed and leftover chicken, turkey or ham taking up space in the fridge or freezer.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
Now is a perfect time for chicken broccoli braid with holiday crowds to feed and leftover chicken, turkey or ham taking up space in the fridge or freezer. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

A few weeks before my wedding, I had a bridal shower where all the guests brought a printed recipe that I could add to a three-ring binder. These would form the core of my very limited cooking repertoire, which at the time included chicken and rice casserole, taco soup and not much else.

Now, 20 years later, only a handful of those recipes is still in regular rotation, a testament to their tastiness and adaptability. One of my favorites among these surviving recipes is chicken broccoli braid given to me by the grown daughter of one of my mom’s friends.

However, variations of this recipe are all over the internet, so maybe it’s been around forever, and I was the last person to hear about it as the Most Unprepared Bride in the Universe.

If you haven’t yet tried chicken broccoli braid, now is the perfect time with holiday crowds to feed and leftover chicken, turkey or ham taking up space in the fridge or freezer.

Diced chicken (or turkey or ham) is combined with chopped broccoli and red peppers and then gently mixed with sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, garlic and dill. The flavor combination is savory and satisfying, and the fact that the whole thing is wrapped up in puffy pastry dough makes it all the more delicious.

As you’ll note from the title, the finished product is supposed to resemble a delicate braid, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to do this without making the whole thing look like a delicate disaster, so I opt instead to just fold the dough over the top of the chicken mixture and pinch it together down the middle.

It still looks fantastic and tastes just as good! Whichever way you decide to make it, chicken broccoli braid promises to be a delicious and impressive meal for your holiday guests, or just yourself, on a chilly winter night.

Chicken Broccoli Braid

2 cups cooked chicken, turkey or ham, diced or shredded

1 cup broccoli, chopped

½ cup red bell pepper, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

½ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dill weed

¼ teaspoon salt

2 packages canned crescent rolls or crescent dough sheets

1 egg white, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper and garlic. Add the cheese and mix gently. Add the mayonnaise, dill and salt and stir to combine.

Unroll the crescent dough sheets and line them up on the baking sheet with the long sides together. They should just about fill your baking sheet as a large rectangle. Press the seams together to form one large pastry sheet.

Spread the chicken filling lengthwise down the center of the dough. If you’re feeling artful and want to make the braid, cut the dough into 1 ½-inch strips all the way down each side of the filling, stopping about ½ inch from the filling. Lift each strip across the chicken mixture until they meet in the center and twist each strip once. Cross the strips over the filling from one side to the other.

If you’re feeling less artful and just want to get dinner on the table, don’t cut the dough into strips and instead fold one whole side of the dough on top of the chicken mixture, and then fold the other side over to meet it. Pinch the seam together down the middle, and pinch the seams together at each end to seal.

Use a pastry brush to brush the dough with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is dark golden brown and the crescent dough is cooked through.

Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.

Julia Ditto can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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