Monday, August 6, 2007

"Joyce Lamont's Favorite Recipes" (Minneapolis radio reporter) - Chicken-Wild Rice Casserole Supreme

Joyce Lamont’s Favorite Recipes by Joyce Lamont; edited by Carol Jackson, Home Economist (Note: Joyce Lamont was a broadcaster with WCCO Radio, a local Minneapolis station)

Published by: Meyers Printing Company, Minneapolis, MN

Recipe: Chicken-Wild Rice Casserole Supreme – p. 64

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When life hands you a catastrophe, make comfort food.

According to the newspapers, after 9/11 people wanted comfort food. If they couldn’t have mama, then they wanted the comfort of mama’s favorite recipes to soothe their tattered and shattered hearts.

After the I-35W Bridge fell last week in Minneapolis, I too, wanted comfort food.

My husband and I live a couple miles away from that bridge and while we didn’t drive over it too often, we did drive underneath it on the River Parkway at least a couple times a week. The parkway was our little shortcut from downtown Minneapolis to our home, just across the river in southeast Minneapolis. My husband also biked on a bike path on the opposite side of the river under the same bridge. It was unnerving, to say the least, to think that we could have been driving or riding along as sweet as you please, when the bridge came down.

And so to pull my rattled self back together, I pulled out my “Minnesota” cookbooks to find just the right thing to soothe the soul. And find it I did.

This recipe represents Minnesota comfort food at its best: a casserole, containing two cans of cream of “something” soup (like it matters what kind it is!), sausage and chicken (because why stop at one type of meat?) and Minnesota wild rice.

Although it’s called rice, wild rice is really a grass, not a grain. When it cooks, though, it looks like rice so that’s probably why it was named such. The Ojibway Indians (sometimes referred to as Chippewa) have harvested this product for centuries and it is a popular item on many a Minnesota menu. Minnesota wild rice is the main ingredient in Byerly’s Wild Rice Soup, a soup which Minnesotans gulp down by the gallon, spring, summer, winter, and fall.

Speaking of gallons, the first thing you do when making this recipe is to basically make a chicken soup and then use that broth to cook the wild rice. Even though three cups of broth were used to cook the rice, I had plenty left over for a couple of bowls of chicken soup in the future. The chicken is then used in the casserole itself. Nothing goes to waste in this town!

Thankfully, the day I made this dish, the temperature finally dropped to around 75, much more comfortable than the searing 90 degrees experienced the week before and so turning on the oven to cook the casserole wasn’t an exercise in torture. But I’m not sure it would have mattered—when life hands you a catastrophe, make a Minnesota casserole.

Chicken-Wild Rice Casserole Supreme – serves 8-10
For the chicken broth
1 3-to-4 pound broiler-fryer, cut up
1 carrot, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced including tops
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, mashed
6 peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt
For the casserole
1 cup wild rice
1 pound seasoned pork sausage
1 cup fresh or 1 cup drained canned mushrooms
1 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 10 ¾ ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 10 ¾ ounce can condensed cream of celery soup
1/3 cup milk or 1/3 cup dry sherry
¼ cup diced pimiento
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon EACH oregano, thyme and marjoram
½ cup sliced almonds

Put chicken pieces in a heavy saucepan. Add water to cover, and the sliced carrot, celery, onion, garlic, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and let chicken simmer until it is tender. Drain, reserving stock.

A couple of notes: I did not add the 2 teaspoons salt this part of the recipe called for nor did I add a full ½ teaspoon of salt to the casserole because the soups contained a lot of salt and I didn’t feel the need for any more. Also, Joyce doesn’t say how long to cook the chicken but “until tender” seemed to take at least an hour, particularly since the chicken breasts I bought in a chicken packet were huge. You’ll have to keep checking to make sure all parts are done.

Let chicken pieces cool, the strip the cooked meat from the bones and cube it.

Grease a 2 ½ - 3 quart casserole. Set aside. Cook wild rice (according to the package), using chicken stock in place of water. Note that the rice I bought had instructions for how much broth and/or water to use – nice!

Brown pork sausage in a skillet.

In melted butter, sauté mushrooms and onion.

In the casserole, mix the soups, milk (or sherry), pimiento, salt and spices. Stir in the cubed chicken, browned sausage, cooked wild rice, sautéed mushrooms and onions. Top with almonds.

Cover the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Nice comfort food, Ann.
So glad you and Andy were well away from the bridge. After all our administration must spend our money for killing rather than fix bridges..