Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chicken rice casserole (p. 96)

I always have a lot of excess poached chicken in the refrigerator because I tend to make chicken stock with whole chickens (whole chickens are really cheap and I like the leftover chicken). I have had Chicken rice casserole (p. 96) on my "to-make" list for a long time and thought that it would be the perfect time to finally make it.

I love mushrooms. And I love sauteed mushroom best of all. As I made these mushrooms, I thought that I was really hungry for a mushroom and Swiss burger...but I continued on with the casserole:

I added flour to the mushrooms and stirred it for a while:

I then whisked in some chicken broth and half-and-half (I never actually use store bought h&h, I just mix cream and milk). The floury mushrooms did not play want to play well with others--it was not easy to get them mixed in, especially with a whisk. I was supposed to cook it until smooth. It was at this point that I realized I should have read the recipe before starting--you think I would have learned my lesson by now considering this has happened before. I needed cooked rice--and I didn't have any.

Now, my dad and stepmother got me a rice cooker for Christmas that I am really excited about but I have been so busy that I haven't figured out how to use it yet. And rice is my high-altitude enemy--the only rice that consistently turns out is sushi rice and that wasn't what I needed. So I prepared baked rice, popped the pot in the oven, and hoped the sauce wouldn't thicken too fast.

Of course it thickened right away. So I turned it down, stirred in the chicken, and hoped for the best.

And the rice turned out--first try for once!

I stirred it in. I didn't include the nuts because Josh doesn't really like nuts (crazy!) and I knew he would be eating a lot of of the casserole. I poured the whole thing into a baking dish.

I mixed bread crumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter and sprinkled it on top:

It was baked until golden brown:

I'm really conflicted about this recipe. One one hand, I really liked the crunchy top and it had a lot more crunch than most casseroles. One the other hand, it was fairly bland. If I made this again, I would include some sort of veggie like corn or peas and some cheese. Some cheese would really have helped the casserole in my opinion.

This recipe would be absolutely perfect if you were cooking a meal for the friends who just had a new baby or something like that--I'm sure it would be fine refrigerated (or even frozen) and then popped into the oven and baked. It's exactly what I would make for my friend Ben, who is about to become a new father, if I lived in Arkansas. It would also be perfect for those of you who cook for people who like bland food (I feel for you, that would drive me absolutely insane).

And the third group it's perfect for are those who are insanely busy (like those writing a dissertation) who like to get home to easy-to-heat food at 8 am (because they are newly nocturnal). That might be a small group but it includes yours truly, so look forward to a month of easy-to-heat food on TJOTJOC. Any ideas of food that fits the bill but I haven't tried yet would be greatly appreciated.

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