Around mid-April our neighborhood throws a block party to give us all the opportunity to know those neighbors who we only see when walking the dog, traveling to and from work or taking out the trash. I absolutely love going to our community block parties; there is always great music and dancing, fun games, and amazing food! Each family brings a dish plus their drink of choice. This year for some reason I was not “inspired”, just did not know what to prepare. Our youngest son, who just recently spent a weekend with his college brother, and was the one volunteered to cook, prepared some delicious tacos. So, his suggestions was for us to bring tacos to the block party. Tacos are just perfect, they are easy to prepare and optimal for feeding a crowd! But wait … there is a problem. How am I going to serve them? I will have to bring the tortillas plus prepare a few side dishes and plenty napkins to clean up after eating the messy taco. I was really looking for a one-pan dish that was simple and would feed a crowd. And there I was back to square one, going through my notes and my cookbooks looking again for “inspiration”. Until finally I found one and decided to adapt it. The original recipe is called “Leslie’s Favorite Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole“ and is from the 2010 Southern Living Ultimate Christmas Cookbook. The reason I changed the original recipe is because I prefer to used fresh ingredients instead of the canned option. If I had the time I would have also prepared the chicken at home 🙂
I replaced the 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup with homemade béchamel sauce and fresh mushrooms, only added 1 can of sliced water chestnuts, combined mozzarella and cheddar cheese in equal parts instead of using cheddar only, did not add the 2 cups of breadcrumbs because I wanted to make the dish gluten free. Feel free to substitute the wild rice with any unflavored rice you have at home and let me know how it turns out. This recipe was a fantastic find, one that I will prepare in the future when we have a big family or friends get-together!
This casserole could be made a day ahead and baked before serving. You could also make the whole recipe if only feeding a few; divide the casserole into two or four baking dishes and freeze (prepare casserole up to the point where almond and flour is sprinkled on the top – do not bake). When using the frozen casserole make sure to let it thaw at room temperature for at least an hour. Bake covered at 350˚F for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking for 45 more minutes. Add the remaining cheese and and bake for 10 more minutes.
- 2 (6.2 oz) packages fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
- 4 medium size celery ribs chopped (approx. 1¼ cups)
- 2 medium size onions chopped (approx. 1½ cups)
- 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts. drained
- 5 cups of shredded roasted chicken (home made or pre-made from store)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 8 oz baby portobello mushrooms (stems and skins removed and sliced)
- 1 garlic clove sliced
- 2 cups of sour cream
- ¾ cup of milk
- olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- 2 oz of toasted almonds crushed
- 1½ tablespoon of gluten free flour
- Preheat oven to 350 ˚F.
- Prepare the rice following package directions.
- Clean mushrooms using a damp paper towel and cut slices.
- In a pan add olive oil and garlic. Remove garlic after it turns golden.
- Add mushrooms and season with salt. Cook for a minute or two, remove before it turns too soft.
- Move the mushrooms without the liquid to a bowl. Save the liquid for the bechamel sauce.
- Rinse the pan, dry and add more olive oil.
- Saute the onions and celery for 10 minutes or until tender.
- Shred the chicken into a bowl.
- Prepare the bechamel sauce (white sauce) follow instructions below.
- Combine in a large bowl the rice, mushrooms, onions, celery, bechamel sauce, shredded chicken, water chestnuts, sour cream , 2 cups of cheese, milk, salt and pepper.
- Lightly grease a 15"x10" baking dish or three 8"x8" baking dishes.
- Mix the crushed toasted almonds with the GF flour and sprinkle on top of the casserole.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
- 50 gr. white rice flour (unbleached all purpose flour for not GF)
- 50 gr. butter
- 2 cups of chicken broth (include the mushroom liquid)
- 1 cup of milk
- Melt the butter in a pot a medium heat.
- Add the flour and with a whisk mix well, removing any lumps.
- Pour the chicken broth a little at a time while whisking.
- Pour the milk and let it cook at a medium-low temp until it thickens.
- Remember to whisk to avoid lumping.
- Add salt to taste.
- If you notice that it is sticking to the bottom of the pot lower the temperature.
- If it thickens too much add a bit more liquid (preferably milk).
- This should yield approximately 3½ cups of bechamel.
Did you make this recipe?
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