Chicken, Cheddar + Wild Rice Casserole

by amy on 22 January 2013

let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? i tried my best to make this casserole look pretty, but casseroles, despite their extreme deliciousness, are just not the prettiest of meals. so, you’ll have to trust me when i say that, despite its ugly duckling appearance, this is one of the *best* casseroles i’ve ever had. it’s a super savory casserole full of delicious wild rice, tender pulled chicken, lots of veggies, + an absolutely divine creamy homemade cheddar sauce. topped with a crunchy cheddar + panko breadcrumbs crust, then baked until golden + bubbly, it is casserolely perfection.

here’s how good it is: i made the full recipe last Thursday for dinner. the recipe makes about 10 servings, + in the 4 days since then, we ate every single one of those servings. my husband is not usually a huge leftovers fan, but he specifically requested this for all of his lunches this weekend. like many dishes, it actually seems to get more flavorful after a day or two in the fridge. so, if you’re looking for a fantastic comfort food meal that will make for awesome leftovers, too, give this a try!

Cheesy Chicken, Cheddar + Wild Rice Casserole

serves 8-10, adapted from picky palate

ingredients

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
2 4.6 oz boxes of wild rice, prepared (i use uncle ben’s long grain + wild rice blend)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

for the cheese sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. heat oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium heat. saute onion, celery + carrots until softened, about 10 minutes. stir in garlic + cook for 1 minute. stir in chicken, prepared rice, salt, pepper + garlic salt. reduce heat to low.

prepare cheese sauce: melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. whisk in flour, salt + pepper + cook for about 3 minutes, until roux turns golden. slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously. whisk until thick + nearly boiling, then stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese until melted.

pour cheese sauce into chicken/rice mixture then transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. top with additional 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese + panko breadcrumbs, + bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted, golden + bubbly.

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Erin @ Texanerin Baking January 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm

You make a lot of food that’s inherently ugly. I don’t know how you always manage to make these dishes look presentable. Good job, Amy. :)

It looks and sounds great!

52 amy January 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Bahahaha, i do have a weakness for casseroles and other not-so-pretty foods. So glad you think i do a good job pretty-fying them!

53 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com March 3, 2013 at 12:40 am

Styling it over a salad is a great idea! You go girl!

Just my 2 cents — using a smaller quantity of casserole foods for styling might help :)

54 Emily @ Life on Food January 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

I am so happy I picked this recipe for the SRC this month. It was so good and amazingly comforting. Just what we needed on a cold winter night. It feed us all week and the leftovers were equally as good as the first night.

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