Great comfort-food dish: Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole with Peas, Carrots and Cheddar
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 2 hour
Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
TOASTED BREAD CRUMB TOPPING:
4 slices white sandwich bread, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 breasts), trimmed
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 pound bag frozen pea and carrot medley (about 3 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
ground black pepper
1. Prepare crumb topping: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300°F. Pulse the bread and butter in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 6 pulses. Spread the crumbs out over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and dry, 20 to 30 minutes. Let the crumbs cool, then toss with the parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and cream.
3. Add chicken breasts, partially cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover completely, and cook until the thickest part of the chicken breast registers 160°F. on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Stir the rice into the pot, cover and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed much of the liquid and is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken, peas and carrots, cheddar, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a 13x9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the crumb topping.
6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 400°F. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and hot throughout, about 1 hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until the crumbs are crisp, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
*To make ahead: Wrap prepared dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator before baking). Don't forget to remove plastic wrap before baking.
*Bake half and freeze half: Divide between two 8x8-inch baking pans. Cover one dish with plastic wrap and foil to freeze.
SOURCE: RecipeGirl.com (via The Best Make-Ahead Recipe)