Is one of your resolutions this year to eat less meat? If so, this simple casserole has all the comfort of your tried-and-true favorites while allowing you to control the poultry portions. By dicing the chicken, you'll find a little can go a long way to prevent feelings of deprivation.
If it's beautiful presentation (or more chicken) you're after, I have also included a full-breast version that looks as impressive as it tastes.
Cooking the rice raw in the casserole — instead of spooning the chicken and sauce over the top for serving — allows the grain to rehydrate and cook in a flavored broth, giving you seasoned rice that could stand alone in taste. The mushrooms similarly soak up the liquid like little sponges, adding even more depth of flavor.
Spicy-Optional Garlic Chicken, Mushroom and Rice Casserole
2 hours, 25 minutes
7 garlic cloves (4 whole, 3 thinly sliced)
8 tablespoons butter (one stick)
1 tablespoon chopped poblano pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño pepper (optional)
1 green bell pepper, sliced
½ each orange, yellow and red bell peppers, sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 chicken breasts, whole or cubed
3 cups brown or white rice, not instant
4 cups chicken stock (1 32-ounce container)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon parsley
¼ teaspoon tarragon
Roast the whole poblano, whole jalapeño and four whole cloves of the garlic (skins removed) under the broiler of your oven on a foil-lined tray. While you want to char the peppers, you'll want to avoid burning the garlic. The garlic should take around 15 minutes, while the peppers may take 10 or so minutes longer. Turn the peppers and garlic as they broil so they cook evenly. Once you have the peppers good and charred, use tongs to toss them in a plastic bag. When they're cool, you'll be able to peel the skins off easily and finely chop the amounts you need. Chop the garlic as well.
If you've decided to cube your chicken, do so now and add all of the ingredients except the butter to a nonstick sprayed baking dish and stir. Dot with butter, cover and bake the casserole at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Then turn the oven down to 200 F and cook an additional hour.
If you prefer whole chicken breasts, stir all the ingredients in a baking dish except the chicken, roasted garlic and butter. Melt the butter and mix with the chopped, roasted garlic. Arrange the chicken atop the other ingredients in your dish, pour the butter over the chicken, sprinkle with a little extra parsley and bake (covered) at 350 F for one hour. Turn the oven down to 200 F and bake an additional hour.
Pro tip: Another handy tweak you can make while constructing this one-dish meal is the level of spice and heat. By omitting the poblano and jalapeño peppers and red pepper flakes, you'll get a milder result while maintaining the buttery, garlicky goodness. I suggest at least trying the poblano even if you're opposed to spicy. The poblano has more flavor than other traditional hot peppers. If you have highly sensitive taste buds, try adding half the amount recommended in the recipe to be safe.