Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Chicken, Asparagus & Mushroom Casserole with Wild Rice

A simple dish, but a bit luxurious it has to be admitted. On the other hand, it can be made mostly in advance which makes it great for entertaining.

Wild rice makes it into my diet when I buy a bunch in a fit of recklessness, after which it sits in the cupboard for a year or so while I forget just how much it cost. Then at last I can use it. I hadn't completely forgotten the price though, and I started off with 3/4 of a cup of it. When it was cooked, it looked so skimpy in comparison to the sauce that I mixed in a quarter of a cup of raw buckwheat groats with the cooked rice. I was very nervous but it cooked up nicely and the 2 flavours combined excellently. So you can do that too, if you like; or just cook more wild rice to start with.

Half a pound of asparagus is not nearly enough for 4 people, at least no 4 people that I know, so cook up at least the other half pound, or better another pound, and serve it with the casserole.

4 servings
1 1/2 hours - 1/2 hour prep time
not including cooking the wild rice

Cook the Wild Rice:
1 cup wild rice
and 3 cups unsalted chicken stock or water
2/3 cup wild rice
and 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or water PLUS 1/3 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put into your rice cooker; cook. This can be done up to a day in advance. Cool and keep refrigerated until needed.

If you wish to cook it in a pot, likewise put it all into a pot - except for the buckwheat if using, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You will need to watch this more carefully than if you use a rice cooker.

If you wish to use buckwheat as part of this dish it actually gets used in finishing the casserole.

Make the Sauce:
3 or 4 green onions
250 grams (1/2 pound) button mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken stock

Wash, trim and chop the green onions. Clean and slice the mushrooms.

Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly browned. Add the green onions and cook for a minute or so longer. Mix in the flour, salt, savory and pepper. Once it is well in and no white spots remain visible, mix in the milk and the chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. 

Finish the Casserole:
250 grams (1/2 pound) asparagus
4 small skinless boneless chicken breasts
OR 8 small skinless boneless chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wash, trim, and cut the asparagus into 1" pieces. Blanch it by pouring boiling water over it, in a colander in the sink, or drop it into boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well. Mix it into the sauce. Mix the cooked wild rice into the sauce as well. If you are using buckwheat as part of the recipe, mix it in now as well -  yes, raw.

Pour most of the sauce into an 8" x 10" shallow baking (lasagne) pan. Nestle the chicken pieces into it, then pour the rest of it over the top. Spread it out so the rice/buckwheat is all down in the sauce. Bake for 1 hour.

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