You all asked for some hearty meal ideas for the fall, and I am more than happy to bring you this delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole! This to me is ultimate comfort food. It was warm on a cool fall night here, the perfect amount of cheesy, and was just so satisfying. Plus, I love the little crunch that the veggies gave to the casserole. There are many recipes that I try and think – eh, it’s okay. Not after the first bite of this casserole. This immediately became a family stable!
I feel like casseroles can be hit or miss with some families or regions. I definitely grew up on casseroles. It is one of the easiest and most economical meal options for busy families. Most can even be prepped ahead of time and throw into the oven when ready. Our most served casserole in the family when growing up? Chicken and Noodle Casserole. I still make it because its easy, tasty and reminds me of childhood. A couple cans of soup, some chicken and cooked noodle, and you have a dinner! I’ve said it many times on the blog, but I don’t think cooking needs to be fancy to be good or special for a family night dinner.
Now – let’s get to my new favorite – Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole!
- INGREDIENTS FOR CASSEROLE
- a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped(I cut in half length wise and then chopped)
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or small chunks
- 1 6oz box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice (about 3 cups prepared)
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Chili Powder (does not make spicy)
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Black Pepper and Salt to Taste
- INGREDIENTS FOR CHEESE SAUCE
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup of flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat oil in a medium to large skillet. Then, saute onion, celery, and carrots. I did this for about 5 minutes - enough to soften without losing the crunch I love. If you don't want these to have any crunch, cook for about 10 minutes. At the end, add in garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add chicken, cooked rice, and spices/seasonings to the pan. Turn the heat source off.
- Prepare cheese sauce: Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Then, slowly pour in the chicken broth while constantly whisking the mixture. Whisk until it thickens and then add in the cheese. I usually add in the first half, stir in, and add the second half.
- Pour cheese mixture into the casserole/rice mixture and stir well.
- TASTE TEST! Make sure it has the flavoring you desire and add more salt or other seasoning as you wish.
- Transfer to 9x13 casserole dish. Top with additional cheese if you desire and bake for 30 minutes.
Note: For this recipe, I cooked up a box of Uncle Ben’s wild rice and threw it into the casserole. It didn’t make things harder because I let it just simmered on the stove while I did everything else. I have heard good things about the wild rice at Trader Joes though and have it on my list to check out. Supposedly it is fully cooked already so you can just throw it into any recipe straight away. Can anyone confirm this?
Note 2: Salt to taste is especially important for this recipe, so make sure to taste the casserole before cooking. Depending on how your chicken was prepared, the chicken broth or the rice you choose to use, your casserole might need more or less salt. For me, I added just a little more salt than I would normally use to get the taste that I wanted.
One of the reasons I love this recipe is because it makes fabulous left overs. There is only the two of us, and I am trying really hard to find economical meals for us to make. This definitely falls into that category. We got 3 dinners out of this casserole plus at least one lunch. We loved it every time!
Casseroles: Yay or Nay in your house?