Tobins' Tastes: Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

I have never liked casseroles. Maybe it's because I am from South Florida where we consider it "cool" out if the temperature drops below 80 at midnight. Maybe it's because I have a weird thing with texture when it comes to food. Or maybe it's just because I am the world's pickiest eater. Yeah, it's probably the last one...

Even though I never liked them, I always wanted to like casseroles. They seem so quick, so easy, so comforting. I have tried a few different versions of a traditional casserole before and none of them ever wowed me until this one.

I found the inspiration for this dish on Pinterest via Picky Palate and adapted it with what we had on hand. I was worried that it might turn out bland but I was so wrong. It was hearty, filling and pretty easy to make.

The best part about this casserole? It doesn't have any canned cream of anything soup, no mayonnaise and no cream cheese. I find that many casseroles have so many processed ingredients that they are really salty or taste too chemically. I love that this dish was made completely from scratch and you could definitely tell by the taste.

I think that next time I will add frozen peas and Justin thought it would be good with broccoli too if you had some on hand. It would also be the perfect freezer cooking dish and I will probably split it up into two smaller pans next time and freeze one for later. Not that I minded having leftovers this time : )

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole
  •  3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 3 stalks of celery finely diced
  • 3 large carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 cups of cooked rice (any variety you like)
  • Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste
For the sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups total of shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.) Heat oil in a large pan and saute the celery, carrots, onion and garlic until soft, took about 10 minutes.

2.) Stir in chicken, rice, salts and pepper and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

3.) While veggies are sauteing, melt butter in a small pan. Slowly whisk in flour followed by chicken broth. Let mixture simmer and continue to whisk until it thickens. Don't let it boil all the way. Whisk in 2 cups of cheese and salt/pepper until the cheese is fully melted.


4.) Pour sauce over the rice mixture. I mixed it up a bit so the sauce was fully incorporated into the rice, chicken and veggies. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown on top.

6.) Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


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