Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

Woo hoo! I’m excited to share that I am co-hosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday #109 this week with lovely Lily of Little Sweet Baker. Fiesta Friday is my absolute favorite online party. I get so many fabulous recipe ideas every week! It’s also a great place to meet other bloggers.

I’m bringing this gigantic potluck casserole to share with everyone. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by chef Gavin Kayser of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis.

This dish has it all. It has layers of tender wild rice, loads of Swiss chard sautéed with shallots and garlic, creamy mushroom-herb sauce, and chicken tenderloins. Because it can be baked a day ahead, it would be perfect to bring to a potluck dinner. It might be the most elegant casserole I’ve ever made!

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

Time: about 2 1/2 hours

For the Wild Rice:

  • 1/2 pound wild rice (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Swiss Chard:

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (I used 2 bunches of green chard and 1 bunch of rainbow chard.)

For the Mushroom Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small celery rib, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

To Finish the Dish:

  • 2 pounds thinly sliced chicken, pounded 1/4 inch thick (I used 14 chicken tenderloins)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • chopped parsley, for serving

Make the Wild Rice:

  1.  In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.
  2. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat until the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Drain well.

Cook the Swiss Chard:

  1. Set a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a pot, heat the oil. ( I used a Dutch oven.)
  3. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the Swiss chard in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the chard is wilted, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Spread the chard out on the rack to drain and let cool completely. Squeeze out any excess water.

Make the Mushroom Sauce:

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering.
  2. Add half of the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 5 minutes. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and browned all over, 5 minutes longer; transfer to a plate.
  3. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in it.
  5. Add the onion, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms.
  6. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  7. Gradually whisk in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 7 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cream and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Finish the Dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch or 4-quart baking dish that’s at least 2 inches deep with cooking oil spray.
  2. Arrange half of the chicken in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  3. Scatter half of the Swiss chard over the chicken, followed by half of the wild rice and half of the mushroom cream sauce.
  4. Repeat the layering once more with the remaining chicken, greens, rice and sauce.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss the panko with the 3 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the casserole.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until bubbling.
  7. Uncover the casserole and turn on the broiler. Broil 6 inches from the heat until the panko is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  8. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Note: The baked casserole can be cooled down and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently and crisp the panko under the broiler before serving.

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