Homaro Cantu once said, “Most of us have fond memories of food from our childhood. Whether it was our mom's homemade lasagna or a memorable chocolate birthday cake, food has a way of transporting us back to the past.”
I don’t know many people who have grown up in the kitchen that don’t have a favorite recipe that’s either been passed down from one generation to the next or one they look forward to having on holidays or for birthdays. Which is why I simply had to share my Great Aunt Margaret’s Chicken Casserole recipe with you.
This is a recipe from my mom’s side of the family and it’s easily one of my favorite meals cause it’s amazing! It’s a rice-based dish with chicken and mozzarella cheese, so it gets all gooey and delicious as it bakes. As I said on camera, there is miracle whip and if you don’t like that, have no fear. It may take a “miracle” but you’ll fall in love soon enough. Trust me!
This particular casserole has been requested on too many birthday’s to count and visits home from college. It’s one of those dishes that’s made with love and just makes you feel good, you know?
Why am I still talking about this? You just need to go make it already. So here it is...from my family to yours.
What you’ll need is:
· 1 c. celery, chopped
· 1 c. onion, finely sliced
· 1 c. uncooked white rice
· chicken broth
· 3 chicken breasts, shredded
· ¾ c. frozen peas
· ¾ c. Miracle Whip
· ¾ - 1 c. mozzarella cheese
First things first. We need to cook our chicken. Take your three chicken breasts and place in a large pot with half water/half chicken broth. You just want the chicken covered. Cook on high until water mixture is boiling, then turn it down to about medium. Chicken will take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to cook, it should be very tender and almost fall apart. Take out of pot and let cool.
Next, get a cutting board and dice up your celery and onion until you have 1 cup of each. Heat a pan with some olive oil on medium and toss in your celery and onions to sauté. We want them to sweat and soften. The best way to tell if they’re done is if the celery no longer has that crunch to it, but is easy to bite in.
Once that’s going, grab a 9 x 13 cake pan and fill with 1 cup of uncooked white rice. Spread so it covers the bottom of the pan. Next, take chicken broth and pour until rice is just covered. Then take your celery and onions and place in rice dish. You’re going to want to spread the wealth and make sure every inch is covered with what you’ve got, leave no onion left behind! Then, place in your 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until your rice is tender.
**Disclaimer** You’re going to want to keep an eye out for your rice, as it absorbs the liquid, the rice has a chance to begin to dry out and start to brown. If this starts to happen, add more chicken broth and continue cooking until all rice is tender.
While that cooks, go ahead and shred the chicken that’s been cooling. Now you might be thinking, how shredded does this need to be? I tend to like bigger chunks, but do your thing. Just as long as you have enough to cover the pan and no one will choke. That’s important.
Once your rice is fully cooked, remove from oven and spread chicken around. Then, you’re going to take your ¾ cup of miracle whip and spread it around. It’s going to be a little challenging, cause it tends to stick and lift up the chicken and rice. Don’t worry, the messier it is, the better it tastes. I’ve learned this from personal experience. Once you’ve done that, grab your ¾ cup of peas and sprinkle them around. Final step, it’s time to get cheesy! Take your ¾-1 cup of mozzarella cheese and cover your casserole with it.
Now it’s time to go back in the oven one last time at 350 again for 15-20 minutes. What we’re looking for here is that the cheese is nice and melted and bubbly. Can’t forget bubbly. Once it’s all melted, it’s done!
Yeah, now that I type it up, it’s not a one, two, presto kind of casseroles, but it’s oh so worth it! Let me know how it goes for you, seriously. I want to know.
From one generation to another, happy eating!
~See y’all next time