Chicken and rice sounds so passe, normal, average, but it may be however, it’s truly more than that too. Cooking this dish gave me an opportunity to use my skills, talent, create something delicious, extrodinary, a stick-to-your-ribs-meal that, with some of it, the ideas and ingredients, and part of the process just popped into my head, as I pulled different items out of my fridge, freezer and cabinets. True Joy!
I felt like a maestro, leading an orchestra adding different instruments (foods), to bring in more flavor, build the true essence of the meal, tweak it contually, until the ultimate meal, the creshendo, is reached and it’s served, pipping hot, edges of the casserole, the creamy sauce, bubbling. All the while, in the middle of the casserole too the vegetables and meat peek through, and bubble up along with the edges. Soon a full meal is enjoyed! Plus it’s simple.
I’ve learned over many decades of cooking that recipes are good to follow, often they are a guideline, but not following them too strictly benefits the cook and diners. Cooking can bring in play and creativity to meal preparation; it can, for many people, become a fun activity! The cook is an artist in the kitchen, using knowledge, techniques and intuition to create an eatable artwork serving hungry people.
INGREDIENTS Serves 6-8
4 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil, divided
4 cups mushrooms, any variety, fresh if possible, sliced
1 onion, sliced or 3 small shallots, sliced, or 1 leek, cleaned and sliced, dark green 4 inches from the end of the stalk removed and tossed
1 small red pepper, sliced
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 cup chicken stock
3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 – 2 1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice
1/2 – 1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen
1/2 cup any leftover cooked vegetables, like asparagus. or broccoli
1/2 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped, and cooked until nearly tender for 10 minutes in 2 Tbsp butter, covered
1/2 cup light or regular sour cream
1 cup panko bread crumps
1/2 – 3/4 cup grated cheese – your choice, try fontina, cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, or a mixture
1 tsp parsley
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp olive or vegetable oil
1 In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onions and red pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, and faintly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining oil and the flour. Stir for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2 Add the chicken broth and whisk often bringing dish to a medium simmer, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add the rice, chicken and cabbage, cooking on low until heated throughout – 3-5 minutes. Stir in peas and other cooked vegetables and season to taste with salt, pepper Italian seasoning and worchestershire sauce. Cook on low for a few minutes. To thin slightly, add a few tablespoons of broth or water, if desired. Turn off the heat and gently stir in the sour cream.
3 Butter a 2-3 quart casserole dish and add the oil. Turn the mixture out into this. Sprinkle the casserole evenly with breadcrumbs. Top with the cheese, then parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Cool 5 – 10 minutes, serve hot or warm.
- This dish can be adjusted by changing the vegetables to your liking. However, depending on your desires, don’t overwhelm the casserole with too many added on vegetables unless you really like it that way. If you add too much you may loose the taste of the chicken and rice. But t ruly, do what you please!
- Try turkey instead of chicken, or maybe ham.
- Use water or vegetarian stock instead of chicken.
- Use Greek or plain yogurt to replace the sour cream, or perhaps milk or half and half, depending on how rich you want to make the dish.
- Add cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick, or add a hot pepper, cut up at step 1.