Thursday, January 26, 2012

RECIPE: Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

I love casseroles.  Take the simplest, humblest ingredients--leftovers, even!--and throw them in a baking dish with cheese and some cream, and you're set!  I call this the Law of Excellent Dinners, wherein the prime tenets are simplicity, cheesiness, and toothy delight. 

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole 


3 cups cooked sprouted brown rice
1 cup cooked sprouted wild rice
6 tablespoons butter
8 oz sliced fresh portobello mushrooms (about 3 cups, or 1 package)
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 cup sharp cheese, shredded (I used Parmesan & Gorgonzola)
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken*
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup slivered, sliced, or crushed almonds, toasted
salt & pepper, to taste


Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9" by 9" glass baking dish with butter or cooking spray.  Cook rice as directed on package(s), using 2 tablespoons of the butter and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, in an extra-large skillet, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of your butter over medium-high heat.  Cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic in butter and white wine for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bellas are tender and the onions are translucent.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in cornstarch.  Gradually add milk and heat to boiling; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in half of the cheese.

In a large bowl, mix your cooked rice, milk mixture, chicken, broth, and seasonings until blended.  Scrape into baking dish with a spatula and sprinkle with almonds and remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

VERDICT?  This dish is so, so good.  It is complex.  It is rich.  It has cheese, chicken, bella mushrooms, and wild rice.  Can I hear three cheers for texture?  Amen.

* For this recipe, I used the leftover chicken from my honey & molasses-glazed chicken, which added a pleasant rich sweetness to the already complex pastiche of flavors in this casserole.

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