Comforting Chicken and Rice Casserole

Comforting Chicken and Rice Casserole

We’re having a bit of weather here in the North Bay of SF this week. It has been such a warm and mild winter that I was fooled into thinking Spring came early this year and we were going to just skip Winter and jolly along with our 70 degree glorious days. I was wrong though and Winter came roaring back in the form of high winds and sideways rain with a bit of a chill thrown in for good measure. I’m not complaining though,the plants are happy and it is a good excuse to make a fire and get cozy.

But this type of weather once again leaves me yearning for comfort food, something hearty and satisfying.

I had a lot of things laying around my kitchen that needed to be used and so keeping in mind that I wanted some homestyle comfort food I decided the most sensible thing to do was to make a casserole (in other words throw everything together and hope for the best!) and try to keep it simple so my 4 year old would eat it too!

With those goals in mind I made this simple but satisfying Chicken and Rice casserole. It’s not rocket science but it hit the spot and both me and my son were happy and basic nutritional requirements were met (Thank God for small favors!).

The great thing about this type of cooking is that you can really add or leave out anything you want, so basically you could make an all veggie version of this or add noodles instead of rice and you can put in whatever kind of veggies you have on hand, I had carrots and leeks and celery, but mushrooms or squash or peas would be just great too. I made a simple white sauce but if you want to use a can of condensed soup go ahead. Also I used a bit of sour cream because that is what I had but Mayo or Creme Fraiche would be fine too. And finally, I had a stale baguette so I made bread crumbs with that but you could use cracker crumbs or Panko or whatever is on hand.

Comforting Chicken and Rice Casserole

About 1 1/2-2 Cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 celery stalk sliced
3 carrots peeled and sliced
2 leeks, white parts only washed really well and sliced
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs Sour Cream or Mayo
S&P to taste
Pinch of Cayenne (optional)
Pinch of sugar
1 Cup cracker crumbs or bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Heat 1 Tbs butter in 2 Tbs Olive oil over low medium heat. Add carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.Add leeks and saute another 5 minutes or so. Add wine and turn heat up to high. Add flour and cook 1 minute or until browned and then slowly pour in heated milk and stir with a wooden spoon until thick. Stir in chicken and rice and celery. Add Chicken broth to desired consistency and then stir in sour cream or mayo. Add pinch of sugar and S&P and Cayenne (if using) and then pour into casserole. Top with crumbs and dot with butter. Cook for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and brown.

Serve immediately.

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