Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chicken with Wild Rice Casserole

  • First of all, wild rice isn’t rice…but it is wild. It’s actually an aquatic grass with grains that look, feel like, and taste like rice. Its closest relatives are other cereals, such as corn, wheat, rice, and barley, as well as bamboo.
  • Wild rice is also known as “water oats,” “Indian rice,” or “Canada rice.” That’s because it’s the only grain native to North America, primarily in lakes and riverbeds in and around Minnesota and central Canada. Today, however, most commercial varieties are cultivated in manmade rice “paddies” in California.

Chicken with Wild Rice Casserole
Cook's notes: Whether you're from the Midwest and grew up eating "hot dish" or never heard the word before this comfort food hits the spot on a cold wintry evening. This is my updated version 2015. No cans of any kind in this recipe. The rice and chicken can be made the day before for easier prep.
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice and 2 cups long grain or brown rice
  • fine sea salt
  • 3 TB, salted butter, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion or 2 leeks, white and light green parts, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • optional 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 TB. all-purpose flour
  • 1- 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 2/3 cup fat free half and half
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, low sodium
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1- 1/2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence, divided
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cooked chicken
  • 4 ounces Swiss or cheddar cheese, grated (about 1- 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups coarsely ground buttery crackers (such as Ritz or Club; about 2 sleeves)
  • 2 TB. extra-virgin olive oil
  • optional 3/4 cup silvered almonds
  • Cook both rices together, rinse and drain. Set aside. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks or onions, celery and mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the flour to the vegetables and stir until well combined. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent any lumps. Add in the half and half, chicken stock, wine, 3/4 tsp. thyme, 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, 1 tsp. parsley, chopped chicken pieces and both rices.
  • Grease a 2-1/2-3 quart baking dish. Pour the chicken mixture into the dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes.
  • Add crackers to a zip loc bag with 1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence. Use a rolling pin to crumble. Add in 1 tablespoon melted butter and shake to combine. Set aside.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle with slivered almonds and the cracker mixture over the top. Bake until the crackers turn golden brown and the mixture bubbles in the center, 1o minutes. Serve immediately.

Cook's notes: A great tasting holiday drink recipe served three ways.
Holiday Pomegranate Lemonade
Mix Ingredients:
  • 4 cups of pomegranate juice, chilled
  • 2 bottles of club soda, chilled
  • 1 can of frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • Pomegranate arils and lemons, optional
Mix ingredients and serve with one of the following options
For the Family
Prepare base mix and stir in 2 cups of chilled Sprite or Ginger Ale. Serve immediately.
For a Bubbly Beverage
Prepare base mix and stir in one bottle of Sparkling Wine, chilled. Serve immediately.
For a Holiday Cocktail
Prepare base mix and stir in 8-12 oz. of chilled vodka, to taste. Serve immediately.

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