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The 'Role of a Lifetime

This cheesy broccoli and rice casserole is as easy as it is delicious
How to Make Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

Have you heard of the meat-and-three concept? This Southern staple offers a choice of one meat served with three sides, the combinations of which are endless. While the origins of where this tradition started are unknown, a meat and three embodied the transition from rural to urban living for those working in the city.

Harold Moore, former chef of Commerce in NYC, is all about this form of Southern hospitality at his new restaurant, Harold's Meat + Three. "A meat and three is really approachable and can be as casual or fancy as you’d like it to be—there’re lots of choices, and everything is relatively straightforward," Moore says.

Moore is serving up meat and side combos that cover the classics, plus a few elevated newcomers. You can get everything from baked potatoes and grits to Japanese sweet potatoes and hand-rolled noodles. But there's one side that's tried and true: Moore's broccoli and rice casserole is the dish dreams are made of. Tender rice and broccoli are coated in a rich cheese sauce before getting baked to golden perfection (see the recipe). "It was originally conceived as a gluten-free answer to mac and cheese for kids," Moore explains. For the non-gluten-averse, bread crumbs provide the perfect crunchy topping.

What makes this casserole superior to its competitors? Well, that's easy: the cheese. Moore uses a blend of cheddar, Gruyère and, yes, Velveeta to make the velvety sauce that coats the rice and veg. "Gruyère gives you stretch, Velveeta adds texture and cheddar brings the sharp flavor. It's my go-to cheese combination," Moore says. If broccoli isn't your thing, sub cauliflower for an equally delicious casserole. Moore also gives you permission to throw in jalapeños if you want an extra kick. As for building the ultimate meat-and-three plate, Moore recommends serving this casserole with beer-can roast chicken or a pork chop. 

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If protein isn't on the menu, this is one side that can definitely stand on its own. "I see a lot of people (including myself) ordering a protein, two vegetables and one more gluttonous item, like french fries or mac and cheese," he recommends. "Sometimes it’s fun to go all in on the naughty sides though."

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