Southern Living reader Leslie Flemister declares this dish perfect for a big family get-together. Make and freeze the casserole ahead, or make two small casseroles.
2 (6.2-ounce) packages fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
5 cups chopped cooked chicken
4 cups (1 pound) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups soft breadcrumbs (homemade)
1 (2.25-ounce) package sliced almonds, toasted
How to Make It
Prepare rice mixes according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and onion. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender.
Combine water chestnuts, cooked rice, celery and onion, chicken, 3 cups cheese, and next 5 ingredients in a very large bowl.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 15" x 10" baking dish or a 4-quart baking dish. Top casserole with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and almonds; bake 5 more minutes.
Note: You can divide this casserole evenly between 2 (11" x 7") baking dishes. Bake as directed above, or freeze casserole up to 1 month. Remove from freezer, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover casserole, and bake 55 more minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and almonds; bake 5 more minutes.