Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leslie's Favorite Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This casserole is my favorite chicken casserole. I usually make the entire recipe and divide it between 3 (9x9) square pans. One for dinner that night and 2 for the freezer.
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
2 (6.2) packages fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
1/4 cup butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (This was not in the original recipe)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 (8- ounce) cans diced water chestnuts, drained
5 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (16oz) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups soft breadcrumbs (homemade - i butter a few pieces of bread and then tear them into small pieces)
1 (2.25 ounce) package sliced almonds, toasted (i do not use these because mark doesn't like them)

Prepare rice mixes according to package directions.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add celery, onion and green pepper. Saute 10 minutes or until tender.
Combine water chestnuts, cooked rice, celery mixture, chicken, 3 cups cheese, and next 4 ingredients in a very large bowl.
Spoon mixture into lightly greased 15x 10 baking dish or a 4 quart baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and almonds; bake 5 more minutes.
Note: You can divide the casserole evenly between 2 (11x7) 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.

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