Easy/Peasy Essentials: Chicken & Rice Casserole

 Easy/Peasy Essentials: Chicken & Rice Casserole


Make dinnertime a breeze with Chicken & Rice Casserole. A comforting classic that's easy as pie.Pulled this together partially from leftovers (the chicken rice, and gravy), and partially from simple items I had in my cupboards. It is an easy recipe to tweak and make your own. FYI: With a side salad and some bread this recipe should feed about 5 – 6 folks; however, it is easy to cut in half, or even quarters to make a smaller amount. On the other hand, it is also easy to double for a bigger crowd. It was well received and there were no leftovers (that is a good sign). So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen. 

Easy/Peasy Essentials: Chicken & Rice Casserole



Cook time: 35 Min  Prep time: 15 Min  Serves: 3
Ingredients
PLAN/PURCHASE
3 c shredded chicken *
2 c frozen mixed vegetables
2 c cooked white rice *
12 oz gravy *
1/4 - 1 c whole milk
1 dash hot sauce, i prefer frank’s
3 c shredded cheese *
DRIED SPICE MIX
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp lemon/pepper spice
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
Directions
1. PREP/PREPARE
2. What will you need? Depending on whether you are using leftovers or making everything from scratch, you might need a pot and pan, and a baking dish. The baking dish size that worked for me was 9 x 13 inches (23 x 33 cm).
3. What to serve with it? This recipe is filling, so I might serve it with just a small side salad, and crusty bread.
4. How to store it? This recipe can be stored in the fridge (covered) for about 3 – 5 days. However, it does fare well in the freezer, and if stored properly should last 1 – 2 months… longer if it is vacuum sealed.
5. Shredded Chicken I am using leftover chicken that was vacuum-sealed and frozen a couple of months ago. If you have some, it will save a lot of time; however, there is nothing wrong with cooking, and shredding your own. Mine was a mixture of dark and light meat but use what you have on hand.
6. White Rice If you are not using leftover rice, reduce the cooking time of the rice by about 10 – 15 percent. The rice will finish cooking while in the oven. If you are using leftover rice, spread it out on a piece of parchment paper and let it dry out for about an hour. This will prevent the rice from turning mushy during the cooking process. I have seen recipes that use uncooked instant rice, but you would have to add additional liquid for the uncooked rice to absorb. I do not like the mouthfeel of instant rice, so I did not try that option.
7. Gravy I am using something called “French Sauce Supreme” for the gravy. It is actually leftover from Thanksgiving (frozen, of course). Here is the recipe; however, use whatever sauce/gravy that makes you happy. 
8. Shredded Cheese I am using a combination of sharp cheddar and jalapeño, but use a combination that pleases your tastebuds. One other thing, I do not recommend using pre shredded cheeses. There is more in that package than just cheese. Cellulose is used to coat the shredded cheese in order to keep the bits from sticking to each other. In addition to anti-caking agents, they also add mold inhibitors. Not only do I not want those ingredients in my body; they can also change how your recipe comes out. For example, let us say you are making a Mornay sauce; possibly for a lasagna or scalloped potatoes. If you use pre-shredded cheeses, your sauce will come out thicker, and will probably require a bit more liquid to thin it out.
9. Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
10. Add all of the dried spices into a bowl and reserve.
11. Add the frozen veggies to a bowl and allow to defrost. As you can see, I am adding in some sautéed mushrooms.
12. If you are using leftover rice, spread it out on a piece of parchment paper for about an hour (this helps to evaporate the excess moisture).
13. Shred your chicken.
14. Add the veggies, spices, and gravy to a pot over low heat, and mix to combine.
15. Add the chicken, rice, and 1 cup of the cheese, then gently fold until combined.
16. Add the milk (start with 1/4 cup) and combine. Mix until you have a good thick consistency, adding more milk, if necessary, then put into your baking dish.
17. When you place the filling it the baking pan/dish, it does not need to be simmering or even hot; just slightly warm.
18. Cover with the remainder of the cheese.
19. Add to the preheated oven and bake until warmed through, and the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown in spots, about 20 – 30 minutes.
20. PLATE/PRESENT
21. Let sit, uncovered, for 5 – 7 minutes, then serve, possibly with a side salad, crusty bread, and wine (there will always be wine). Enjoy.
22. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

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