Thursday, December 18, 2008

Creamy Mushroom, Chicken and Rice Casserole

Mmmm....remember the days of opening a can of cream of anything soup and adding it to a casserole for creamy easy dinner options. Gone are those days if you are following a diet restricted by multiple food allergies. This recipe though, it will take you back. Back to comfort food and creamy baked casseroles, so good you can serve it to guests with no apologies or even explanations, just pure hostess pleasure.

That being said, this recipe is very out of character for me in that I did not measure even ONE ingredient. Obviously, my husband's cooking style is rubbing off on me. I will do my best to guess-timate how much I poured in, but feel free to alter what you add based on your cook's instincts. The results were even yummy even cold, so I think it is worth trying. And next time, just for you, I will measure.

DOH! I forgot to mention the secret ingredients in this recipe: laziness and chance. I actually decided to make chicken and rice casserole to use up the rest of the chicken I had roasted from the night before. I was too tired to do more than throw saran wrap over the pan I had roasted it in and put it in the fridge the night before. So, as I am removing the remaining meat from the bird, I realize that the bird is in the pan that I want to use. Darn it! In a moment of inspired laziness, I tossed the carcass, mixed the saved meat into my recipe, and decided to cook it IN THE SAME PAN. No need to wash it, it was in the fridge the whole time! So, I scraped the fat off the top of the drippings, and poured my casserole into the pan. I really think that the recipe benefited, and I had to wash the pan only once. Win win I say.

Creamy Mushroom, Chicken and Rice Casserole

3 T olive oil + 3 T olive oil
1/3 c gluten free flour (I used the blend from
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika (optional, this is more for color enhancement)
1/4 c hemp milk
2-3 c safe chicken broth (I used Giant Eagle's Market District Natural Chicken Broth)
8-10 sliced mushrooms (more if you like them, I keep it light for the kiddos)
3 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
8 oz cooked brown rice pasta of your choice, or 3 c cooked rice (I used fusilli.)
2 c diced roasted chicken
pan juices from roasted chicken

Preheat oven to 375. In large skillet heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add mushroom and onion and saute until reduced and nicely brown, about 10 minutes. Or more. You know when they look yummy to you.

Add spices and stir, saute about 1 minute, just to warm and release fragrance of spices. (If your mix is very dry at this point, add up to 3 Tbsp more olive oil and warm it.) Add flour. Mix well. It should absorb nicely, and be fairly dry but not Sahara like. Add hemp milk slowly, then add chicken broth about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until incorporated. This is your sauce, and you want it creamy. More broth means more sauce, you know how sauced you like your noodles. Too much broth will make a thin sauce though, so don't go all crazy on me. When you achieve the desired consistency, sprinkle with nutritional yeast and stir.

Add pasta and chicken, stir to coat. Pour into 8x11 glass pan (and if it is the one you roasted the chicken in last night, even better! Give it an extra stir to incorporate some of those pan juices that have congealed down there.) Bake about 25 minutes, until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Enjoy!

I have been meaning to try this with a mix of white and wild rice, as it seems like it would be divine. Please, let me know if you beat me to this...I'm curious as to the results. (Aim for about 3 cups of cooked rice for this recipe if you decide to use rice.)

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