Funny from how and where inspirations come. From comments provided by readers, passing strange vegetables in the grocers, finding odd, long lost boxes of grains in the cabinets and last pickings from the garden or maybe a knock on the noggin; all ideas seem to transpire and come together somewhat miraculous into hopefully a delicious meal fit for friends, family, you my readers and me.
Back to the casserole. You can always count on God and good friends to give you the nudge just when you need it. Take this recipe for example. Carol Egbert, whose beautiful art, reads, and recipes I just love, transcended such a push with a comment on my Calico Pickled Salad saying it is ‘fun to have a recipe that says use what you have’. The comment came just as I starting thinking about a chicken rice casserole with nothing much on hand. Folks it don’t get better than that.
The casserole needs chicken, that’s a given if it’s going be a chicken casserole. Using rice or another grain, whatever vegetables you have on hand like asparagus, leeks, broccoli florets, corn, (I had an onion, button mushrooms and a red bell pepper) seasonings and a little cupboard magic is all that’s needed. I chose not to go for the condensed soup using yogurt and buttermilk instead. You can say I had a homey calling. You can use sour cream and milk if you like. I used long grain white rice but brown rice would be nice too, maybe add more stock. Seasonings and herbs depend on your taste too. Chicken thighs would be tastier.
And I bet you thought Chicken Licken was a meager attempt to describe the taste of the casserole – well, that too. Enjoy!
Homemade Chicken Mushroom Rice Casserole
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut horizontally in half
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 cup raw long grain white rice
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/3 cup toasted plain bread crumbs
In a large skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil. Heat to medium high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and sauté in the hot oil until lightly seared. Drain and set aside. The chicken should still be a little under cooked.
Lower the heat to medium low. Add the garlic to the oil and swirl around until fragrant. Remove garlic and add the mushrooms increasing the heat to medium high and sauté until light brown. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Place the mushroom onion mixture in a bowl and set aside.
To the pan, deglaze by adding the wine scrapping off any brown bits on the bottom until reduced to about a couple of tablespoons. Add the chicken stock and stir until heated and bubbly. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Add salt and pepper to taste to the sauce in the skillet. Slowly stir in the buttermilk, the yogurt, and Parmesan then stir in the seasonings. Stir in the rice, sweet pepper and fold in the onion mushroom mixture. Place in a greased 13x 9 inch casserole dish.
Cut or shred the chicken into bite size pieces. Scatter chicken on top of the rice mixture patting down a bit, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove foil, check moisture to see if more stock is needed or if longer baking time is needed to cook out liquid. Let the top brown a little before sprinkling on the breadcrumbs.