I make fancy chicken and rice casserole in the wintertime when I'm looking for a more stick to your ribs kind of dinner, for friends birthdays, or even for impressing some dinner party guests. This recipe is a relatively versatile and easy to make stunner that will knock your flavor socks off. The creamy herbed rice creates a kind of French risotto vibe that melds perfectly with the flavorful and juicy chicken. It is at once comforting, interesting, and a nice change for those who usually don't do French because of sauces that are too rich or recipes that are too involved. BTW the fresh herbs make all the difference so try to use those if you can!
Today's Cast of Characters:
What to Do:First, as always recommended when using the oven, preheat the oven to 375°F. This dish takes awhile to bake and you won't want to wait around as soon as you smell how good this baby smells.
Next, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high or high heat. The pan should be hot enough to brown but not burn. If it helps, I usually use medium high because I'm horribly afraid of burning anything.
|Fancy Chicken and Creamy Rice Casserole|
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 ¾ cups* chicken stock**
3 or 4 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup fat free half and half or cream
1 cup raw, medium or long grain, white rice
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
about 1 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
About 2 teaspoons each of fresh sage, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high or high heat (hot enough to brown but not burn). While you wait, season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper and Herbs de Provence seasoning.
2.Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces on two sides, about 1-2 minutes per batch. Add a little olive oil if needed after every batch if needed, if the chicken is cooking correctly, this will not be necessary. Please note that the chicken does not have to be cooked through, only browned. Remove chicken pieces and set aside in a bowl with paper towels.
3. In the same sauté pan lower the heat to medium add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 30 seconds more. Remove onions and garlic to a shallow (9 x 13 x 2) casserole dish.
4. Raise heat to medium high, add the sliced mushrooms. Dry sauté them with no additional butter or oil, allowing the mushrooms to brown lightly, and release some of their moisture. Add the mushrooms to the casserole dish.
5. Add the dry white wine to the pan to deglaze the pan, scraping off the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, since I use nonstick there are never any bits. Let the wine reduce to about 1 Tbsp, then add the chicken stock, and remove from heat.
6. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, the cream, and the sour cream and mix until well blended and smooth looking.
7. Add the raw rice to the casserole dish. Then pour the cream mixture over the rice. Add all of the fresh herbs. Stir the rice, onion, mushroom, herb mixture so that they are evenly distributed in the casserole dish.
8. Place the chicken pieces on top of the rice mixture in a single layer if you can, don't panic they will be crowded. Bake in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes uncovered. If the casserole is still too liquidy, let it cook a few minutes more until the excess liquid has evaporated away, this dish usually takes about 50 minutes in my oven. The chicken should be a safe 165 degrees by then.