Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Chicken and Rice Dinner

This began as a simple casserole recipe which I've adapted over the years--the original called for cream of chicken soup; when I made it for the first time years ago, cream of celery was all I had in the house and I've used it ever since. Sometimes I've used chicken breast tenders, sometimes chicken breasts. The result has been virtually the same. This is a classic chicken and rice casserole, paradoxically easy yet fussy to make (see my notes at the bottom of this post), and a family favorite. It takes a rather long time to make in comparison to many other mid-century casseroles featured on my blog; so pop it in, do some housework, have a glass of wine, and check on it in an hour!

Cheddar Chicken and Rice
Serves 4

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of uncooked rice
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar*
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 can of cream of celery soup**
3 cups of water
1 envelope of Lipton onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Layer rice, 1 cup of cheese, and salt and pepper in pan. Place chicken on top. Dab cream of celery soup on top of the chicken and rice. Pour on soup mix and as much of the water as pan will hold. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, adding the rest of the water if completely absorbed. Bake for approximately 1/2 hr more or until all of the water is absorbed. Top with remaining cheddar, bake for 15 more minutes or until the cheese has melted.

A Note From Bethany...
Less water may be used depending on how the casserole bakes in your particular oven. Sometimes I've needed to use all of the water as it is absorbed during cooking, and mysteriously, other times only about 2 1/2 cups is required. The cooking times for me vary each time I make it, as they have for years. One thing is certain--cook for at least an hour, and frequently observe during the remaining cooking time to judge water absorption.

*I often use low-fat cheddar.

**Many condensed cream soups, including the ubiquitous Campbell's, contain gluten. Although there are creamed soups on the market that are specifically gluten free, I have never tried them with my recipes, so I can't speak to how they compare. I also often use the cream of celery soup from the the lower sodium line of Campbell's products.