More often than not we have one meal a week that I just call Leftovers Night. The night is either a hodgepodge of different things that have been leftover from various meals re-heated separately or, if the ingredients go well together, some type of stir fry, hash or casserole for dinner. When we had some leftover vegetables and a rotisserie chicken in the fridge the other day, it seemed to be crying out to be made into some type of casserole and I had seen this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for a chicken and rice casserole recently and found this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
Chicken and Rice Casserole with Lemon and Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
25 Ritz crackers, crushed to coarse crumbs (about 1 cup) or crunchy bread crumbs
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the carrots and the onions and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated. Add the water, chicken stock, heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Stir in the cooked chicken, the asparagus, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and the tarragon and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle the Ritz cracker crumbs over the top to coat the top of the casserole. Bake the casserole until the topping is browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
This recipe makes great use of all kinds of leftovers and comes together nicely to form a one pot dish filled with chicken, rice and vegetables. The chicken stock and heavy cream create a nice sauce that goes throughout the dish and you get a hint of the lemon and the cheese in each bite. I really liked using the Ritz crackers as topping as well and it gave some added buttery flavor and crunch to the dish. This would work well with any type of leftover chicken or turkey and you can put it all together in under 40 minutes, making it great for a weeknight and for easy clean up.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!