Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

I've been trying to use what we have on hand lately, just to keep our food bills lower than usual, but we sure didn't feel like we were living on a budget when we enjoyed this Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole for dinner today.

I've always enjoyed wild rice, but I had never tried cooking it at home. Since I had some in the pantry, and we had bone-in chicken breasts in the freezer, this seemed like a good recipe to try...and it was.

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth (I actually made my own broth from the bones after broiling the chicken breasts)
1 cup half and half cream
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (I brined the chicken first just to make sure that it would be nice and juicy)
4 cups cooked wild rice
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. diced pimientos, drained
1 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley
1/3 cup slivered almonds, roasted

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until translucent, then add garlic and saute for a couple more minutes. Stir in flour, garlic salt, and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in broth, bring to a boil. Boil and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the cream, chicken, rice, mushrooms, pimientos, and parsley, and heat through. Transfer to a greased 2-1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly. (Serves 6-8.)

Note: In case you're new to wild rice, like I was...First wash 1 cup of wild rice thoroughly in hot tap water, then heat it in a pan with three cups of water and 1 tsp. salt. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until rice is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes, draining any extra water when the rice is tender but not mushy.

Another Note: If you'd like to try brining the chicken before cooking it, like I did, for 4 lbs. of bone-in chicken breasts, mix 2 quarts water, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large container. I used a clean, empty, 5-quart ice cream bucket. Add the chicken breasts to the brining solution and refrigerate for an hour. Then rinse and cook as intended.

No comments: