Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken and Rice Casserole

How's about a little Leftover Magic today?

If you're anything like me, a trip through your refrigerator will often yield a somewhat disjointed collection of leftover bits in need of use. Perhaps a handful of steamed broccoli, some cooked rice, an assortment of pepper halves, a handful of button mushrooms, and maybe even a lonely half chicken that needs a good home. Or at least that's what I found last Wednesday as I was trying to throw dinner together.

The lesson for today isn't so much about a recipe, as I doubt you'll have the same ingredients lounging around your fridge, as it is about recycling ... using bits and pieces of other meals to create a new and satisfying dish. I recognize that this recipe may be better suited to last week's cooler temps, but given the holiday weekend, you might just have some leftovers of your own.

Let's face it, casseroles are where all straggling bits go to glory; so use what you've got. You can make this dish with rice, or leftover noodles, or any kind of pasta. You can make it with turkey, chicken, ham or roast pork. You can leave the meat out and double up on the veg. Its all good and all delicious ... especially when topped with cheddar cheese!

Basically, we're talking about a technique here: saute some veggies, make a roux, add some liquid, protein and a starch, then bake. It couldn't be more simple or more comforting.

Amounts here are flexible, as are ingredients.

Chicken and Rice Casserole:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, any color or a poblano, seeded and diced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 8 button mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or whatever seasoning you like)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • dash of curry powder, if desired
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 cups of non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fat-free Half and Half (or milk)
  • 1/4 cup of sharp shredded cheese, cheddar, provolone or Parmesan
  • 1 to 2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 1 to 2 cups of steamed broccoli florets, chopped
  • 3 cups of cooked rice (I used a brown and wild rice mix)
  • some additional sharp cheese for topping
  • some bread crumbs for topping
1. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, shallots and mushrooms and saute, adding a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of curry powder, if desired. Stir and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the pan and stir well to blend, continue to saute for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to the pan, raise the heat to high and allow the mixture to come to the boil, stirring well. Let the mixture bubble away until it begins to thicken, roughly 3 to 4 minutes, then add the fat-free half and half and 1/4 cup of sharp shredded cheese. Stir well to combine.

3. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

4. Add the cooked chicken, the broccoli and the rice, stirring well to combine. Add more liquid, if it seems necessary. Transfer the mixture to a buttered casserole dish and top with some whole wheat bread crumbs and some additional shredded sharp cheese. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until beginning to brown and hot throughout. Serve and enjoy!

As written this recipe will serve 4 to 6, depending on portion size.

So what's your favorite way to re-use leftovers? Hungry Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!


Holly said...

Love a good "leftovers" recipe:)

vilges suola said...

My refrigerator would pose more of a challenge. I found several packs of well-wilted spinach, some rock-hard crumbs of Cheddar, a lone boiled beetroot, a tube of tomato puree and a jar of Thai red curry paste with green stuff developing on the surface. I marvel that you have such a well-stocked, well-behaved fridge.

Megan said...

I really need to get better about using leftovers. If I think of it, I'll sometimes throw different leftover veggies and cheese together and make a pasta of sorts. I love your casserole idea.

Heavenly Housewife said...

What a great dinner. This looks like some good comfort food to me.
*kisses* HH

Mo Diva said...

I am ALL about casseroles. I dont make them often because its just me these days and having so much of something often leads to mindless munching! but when i lived iwth mom and dad... i put their leftovers to GOOD GOOD use!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks, Holly! It was mighty tasty. :)

vilges suola - you always manage to give me a chuckle! I'm not sure you've got the makings of a casserole there ... science experiment, perhaps?! LOL

Megan - we end up with a lot of leftovers, since I'm only cooking for two ... and I need to get creative in order to get the husband to eat the same stuff over again! Pasta is another great option, you could even use it in place of rice here in this recipe.

HH - it was comforting, indeed! Especially on a chilly night. xoxoxo

Mo - I know what you mean, sometimes I end up with leftovers of my leftovers ... I really need a bitter freezer!

Anonymous said...

Excellent recipe and a great use of leftovers!

Sook said...

The casserole looks divine! Love it.

Velva said...

Looks like you pulled off a tasty chicken and rice casserole. My hat is off to you!

Sophie said...

What a grand left over recipe!! I so love this tasty dish!

Yummmmmm,....many greets from rainy Brussels, Belgium!!!

Debinhawaii said...

Exactly my kind of dish--I love using leftovers in different ways and casseroles are so homey and comforting. This looks delicious!

Mini Baker said...

yum!! looks healthy AND delish!

Tangled Noodle said...

I may have to make this with fresh ingredients - I've actually become quite adept at cooking just enough for two that we have few leftovers! But I'm a fan of casseroles, so perhaps on pasta or rice evenings, I'll have to cook just a bit more than usual to warrant this meal. 8-)

Maven said...

Oh YUMM!!!

I love a good casserole like I love my fabulous GF's!!

That being said - love you LOTS!!!

Jackie said...

Great tips for adding new life to leftovers. I'll remember this the next time I wind up with cartons of plain white rice from those nights when I just can't cook another thing.

Kathleen said...

This looks like a delicious way to create some thing brand new out of leftovers!