I love the idea of a casserole. It can often be the oven’s version of the 1 pot meal. A casserole can contain all of the important nutrition a meal requires. And, casseroles often equal comfort food. HOWEVER, they often consist of
lots of cheese or creamy sauces that look more like Elmer’s glue than nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese but I also want pack lots of nutritious ingredients into the meals I make for my family. Now, this recipe is not vegan but I imagine it could very easily be converted. Below is Food and Wine’s revived version of a chicken and wild rice casserole. We ate it with a big salad on the side. The boys loved it. Well, Andrew loved it and once I took out all of the mushrooms, Chase said he liked it. Kind of. Enjoy!
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
1/2 pound wild rice (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 pounds thinly sliced chicken scaloppine, pounded 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups panko
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Chopped parsley, for serving
- MAKE THE WILD RICE In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat until the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Drain well. (OR – Make it in a rice cooker and be done with it.)
- MEANWHILE, COOK THE SWISS CHARD Set a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. In a pot, heat the oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Swiss chard in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the chard is wilted, 8 to 10 minutes. Spread the chard out on the rack to drain and let cool completely. Squeeze out any excess water.
- MAKE THE MUSHROOM SAUCE In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 5 minutes. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and browned all over, 5 minutes longer; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
- Wipe out the skillet and melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Add the onion, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cream and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Arrange half of the chicken in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch or 4-quart baking dish that’s at least 2 inches deep. Scatter half of the Swiss chard over the chicken, followed by half of the wild rice and half of the mushroom cream sauce. Repeat the layering once more with the remaining chicken, greens, rice and sauce.
- In a medium bowl, toss the panko with the 3 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until bubbling. Uncover the casserole and turn on the broiler. Broil 6 inches from the heat until the panko is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
The baked casserole can be cooled down and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently and crisp the panko under the broiler before serving.
Pair this dish with a ripe, full-bodied California Chardonnay.