On Saturday, while we were at the grocery store, Rob turned to me and said, “You know I can tell you’re from Texas because you live and die by the casserole.”
Boy, ain’t that the truth.
I make a casserole at least once a week. Casseroles are just so freaking versatile, and you always end up with at least a square foot of leftovers to munch on throughout the week. They’re hearty, fulfilling, and they always give you that home-cooked, heartwarming feeling.
I’ve probably copied a thousand different casserole recipes onto note cards, and I’ll never stop bookmarking them to use in my monthly arsenal of dinners. My poor 9×13″ Pyrex baking dish gets used SO MUCH. However, with as good as casseroles are, they’re not really efficient to make in the summertime months—the months that I rarely use my oven. So, as I prepared to say “adios” to the casserole for a few months, I made the Northern comfort-food recipe.
Apparently, wild rice is BIG in state like Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. I had no idea it was grown up there. I’m not a big wild-rice-only fan, so I decided to sub it out for a wild rice medley that included red rice, brown rice and the thin sprigs of black wild rice.
The base of this recipe is the classic French mirepoix…don’t be scared! That’s just a fancy term for minced carrot, celery and onion (also known in Italian cooking as a soffritto). You basically braise the wild rice medley in a mirepoix & chicken broth mixture in the oven. It adds integral flavor to this casserole.
I love that you add an extra level of creaminess to this casserole by making a quick béchamel to pour over the rice. All of these flavors combined made this casserole out of this world! I was contemplating making it again this week, it was that good.
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 large carrots, chopped
- 4 stalks of celery, minced (reserve celery leaves for topping)
- 1 1/4 cup wild rice medley
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
- 10 TBS. butter, divided
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 4 TBS. flour
- 2 cups milk
- 4 cups dried stuffing mix (I used bagged Pepperidge Farm stuffing)
- 2 TBS. minced celery leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chopped & minced onion, carrots, and celery in a large 9×13″ baking dish. Add the wild rice and the broth. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt 4 TBS. butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute, then add salt & thyme. Cook for another minute. Add the milk, slowly, whisking to form a thick, creamy sauce. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, melt remaining 6 TBS. butter in a microwave. Add stuffing mix and celery leaves and stir until evenly coated with butter and crumbly.
- When the rice is done, remove the foil and add the raw chicken and creamy béchamel sauce. Stir until well combined. Top with stuffing/bread crumb mixture, spooning evenly over the top of the casserole. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees and bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.
The only bad thing: casseroles are not very photogenic. Sorry! I swear it tastes amazing, though. Even Rob liked it! He took some leftovers to work for a few dinners last week. I have to say, casseroles like this are the perfect cure-all. Feeling down? Make this casserole. Stressed out? Make this casserole. Don’t want to cook dinner? Make. This. Casserole. It will warm you up, make you happy, and keep many bellies full 🙂