Using a long-grain and wild rice mix and toasted almonds in chickencasserole makes it a little bit dressier and fit for company during the holidays.
1 (2.25-oz.) package sliced almonds
2 (6.2-oz.) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
1/4 cup butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup
2 (8-oz.) cans chopped water chestnuts, drained
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 4 to 6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare rice mixes according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and onions. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, next 6 ingredients, rice, and 3 cups cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch baking dish or 2 (11- x 7-inch) baking dishes. Top with breadcrumbs.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with toasted almonds. Bake 5 minutes.
To Make Ahead: Prepare as directed in Steps 2 and Cover with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 1 month. Remove from freezer, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Toast almonds as directed in Step Bake casserole, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 55 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese and toasted almonds. Bake 5 more minutes.
Shrimp-and-Wild Rice Casserole: Substitute 2 lb. peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (4 1/50 count) for chicken; 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese for Cheddar cheese; and 1 cup dry white wine for milk.
Cajun Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole: Omit salt and pepper. Reduce chicken to 2 1/2 cups. Prepare as directed, sautéing 1 lb. andouille sausage, chopped, and 1 green bell pepper, diced, with celery in Step Stir 1 (15-oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained, and 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning into rice mixture. Proceed as directed.
My family loves this casserole! Yes, it is a little time consuming, but so worth it. I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery to help cut the prep time and omit the water chestnuts for my husband. I was out of bread crumbs so I crumbled a tube of Ritz Crackers for the topping and then drizzled 2 tablespoons of melted Butter all over the crackers. We all liked it better this way! To appease picky eaters about the Almonds, you can either put them on just one end of the casserole or serve them on the side in a small bowl. My family never minds eating this casserole for leftovers, the only problem is there usually aren't any!! This makes a wonderful holiday dish served with sweet & sour green beans or broccoli, yeast rolls, congealed strawberry salad and either pecan pie or coconut cake for dessert. Every time I have ever made this I get asked for the recipe!
This recipe is mind blowingly good. I made it for Christmas dinner and everyone loved it. Makes a huge amount and the left overs are just as good. It is a yummy stick-to-your-ribs warms-you-up-on-a-cold-day casserole.
I made this according to the recipe. I thought it needed additional vegetables, so the next time I added a 16oz. pkg of frozen broccoli (put in frozen) and it was very good. I think it would also be good with a one pound bag of frozen peas. You have to accommodate the additional ingredients by using a larger baking dish.
I thought this was good but not exceptional in any way. I had a cheddar/jack combo cheese in the house that I used and maybe that made it too bland, but it really needed a little kick of some sort. Next time I'll make sure I use a sharp cheddar cheese and maybe throw in a dash or two of tabasco sauce. Just something to bolster the flavor a little. The water chestnuts didn't do anything for me either, but that's just a personal preference. I think I would prefer mushrooms over water chestnuts.
This was sooooooo good! I had to change some things as I didn't have milk, so I substituted low-fat half and half and didn't have enough onion, but did have french fried onions that I crushed and blended with the bread crumbs. We will definitely be having this one again!
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