Thursday, October 21, 2010

In The Kitchen: Chicken & Rice Casserole

So, I made this casserole for the fam two days ago.  It was DELICIOUS.  I'm not really a casserole type of of person, but I've been wanting to add more dishes to my arsenal that my family can eat off of for 2-3 days, i.e. giving me less cooking days out of the week.  I decided to find a casserole recipe from the queen of comfort food cooking herself, Paula Deen.  I searched through, and this is what I found.  I have to admit, when I read through the ingredients, I was a little skeptical.  Water chesnuts? Pimento?  Didn't sound like any comfort food that I'd ever had before.  Paula Deen has never let me down before, so I decided to take a leap of faith, and I'm glad I did.  The hubs asked that I make this a "regular".  Did I mention that this was so delicious?!

Chicken & Rice Casserole


    * 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
    * 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
    * 3 cups diced, cooked chicken
    * 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
    * 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
    * 1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos
    * 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
    * 1 cup mayonnaise
    * 1 (6-ounce) box long-grain wild rice, cooked according to package directions
    * 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
    * Pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat butter or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients to bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

I don't think I've ever cooked with water chestnuts before, aside from pre-made stir fry.

Green beans, water chestnuts, pimento and sauteed onion

Rice & cheese added.

Mayo & cream of chicken soup added.

Last but not least--the chicken! Breast & thigh meat.

Ready for the oven.  Topped with extra cheese and crushed Ritz crackers.  My own little twist.

Turned out spectacular. Creamy gooey-goodness!
Tips & Mods

-I used chicken breasts & thighs that I'd baked in the oven prior to making the casserole.  Just seasoned them with a little salt and pepper.

-I only used one can of green beans.  In my opinion, that was enough.  Next time, I will steam fresh green beans prior to making the casserole--better color, and more crunch.

-I doubled the cheese.  No explanation needed, I'm sure. haha

-I used cream of chicken soup instead of cream of celery.  I'd forgotten to buy the cream of celery and happened to have cream of chicken in the cupboard, thank God.

-After putting everything in the casserole dish, I topped it with the remainder of the cheese and crushed Ritz crackers.  A "topping" tends to make casseroles look better.  It also gives a little bit of crunch.

-As I read through the reviews of this dish, I saw that people were making their own variations (broccoli instead of green beans, different kinds of cheeses, adding mushrooms, etc.) with great results.  I definitely think this casserole is a good base to experiment with, and I intend to in the future.  I like to try recipes out as-written (for the most part) initially, just to get a better idea of how it was originally intended before I alter it.

Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did!

Recipe can be found HERE.


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