Right out of the gate I will tell you that I had a love-hate relationship with this recipe. I loved the way it tasted and I will definitely make it again. My husband gave it a two thumbs up so I know it’s a keeper. What I hated was how the recipe was written and that is always a big sticking point with me. I try to be empathetic toward recipe authors as I understand I live in high altitude and that changes the rules somewhat. But even with that, I find it hard to believe this recipe (I amended it for you in this blog) as originally written would even work at sea level. So for my non-intuitive cooking friends out there, beware. I suggest you do the recipe the way I’ve written it and I think you will be successful on the first try.
This recipe came from the website http://www.keyingredient.com. From what I can tell, it appears that people submit recipes and they are published on this site. This particular recipe was intriguing to me as I had all of the ingredients already and I was looking to try something different. My goal is to try one new recipe a week and blog about it. So this recipe helped me on both fronts. So here is my rating and lessons learned along with my version of the recipe. You can always search for the original recipe on the key ingredients website.
RATING: A: for flavor and ease of preparation, F: for how the recipe was written. With a few simple adjustments this recipe could easily get an “A” on both counts. But in my estimation it was not well written.
LESSON LEARNED 1: The original recipe called for either 3 cups of cooked rice or 1 cup of uncooked rice, with no differentiation in cooking time for either one. Even I know that there has to be some sort of a difference, right? You can’t expect uncooked rice to turn out the same as cooked rice without some adjustment to the cooking time. So adjust I did, and even with that the rice still turned out slightly crunchy. The original recipe called for a cooking time of 350 for 30 minutes. So for me, in high altitude, that normally means I set my oven to 365. But I just had a feeling that 30 minutes would not cut it, so I planned on a 45 minute timeframe. After 45 minutes I looked at the casserole and it still did not seem as hot and bubbly as I would like it so I cranked the temperature up to 375 and cooked it for another 15 minutes. And even with all that time, the rice was still not fluffy and in some instances slightly crunchy. Lesson learned for me: the next time I make this I will cook it at 375 for 1 hour using cooked rice. I will cover the casserole with foil for the first 45 minutes and leave it uncovered for the last 15 to get some good browning on top of it. If you choose to use uncooked rice remember to adjust your time. What that time might be I cannot tell you as I have no clue. All I can tell you is that after an hour it was not completely cooked through for me.
LESSON LEARNED 2: This is also a big bug-a-boo of mine. In a recipe be clear about whether a dish should be covered or uncovered in the oven. Don’t assume I know. This recipe calls for cheddar to be put in the sauce as well as sprinkled on top and did not indicate anything regarding whether the dish should be covered or not. In my experience, cheddar cheese left uncovered on casseroles for a long time tends to look burnt. I covered the casserole with foil for the first 45 minutes and then left it uncovered for the last 15. It worked out beautifully.
LESSON LEARNED 3: The orignal recipe calls for sautéing the onions in margarine. Why margarine instead of butter? Butter is a much purer ingredient. I used butter instead.
LESSON LEARNED 4: I was surprised how long it took for the cheddar cheese to melt in the soup mixture. It took about 5 minutes and required constant stirring. So be patient, it will melt but it does take time. (This was probably the most labor intensive part of the process).
LESSON LEARNED 5: The original recipe called for 2 cups of frozen broccoli. Although frozen vegetables are of much higher quality than they used to be, why not use fresh? I used fresh broccoli chopped into bite size pieces. The broccoli turned out perfectly, crisp tender. So use fresh broccoli if you can. I think frozen broccoli might turn out mushy in this recipe.
Don’t get me wrong, I really liked this recipe. It would have been tremendous if the rice was cooked properly. So give this one a try and try it the way I am writing it. I think you will be much more successful that way.
Chicken Broccoli Mushroom Cheese and Rice Casserole
3 cups cooked rice
3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken or any other type of precooked chicken, drained)
2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen – no need to thaw) chopped into bite size pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup (low sodium preferred)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium preferred)
3 TBS. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (more if desired)
1 clove garlic, minced (more if desired)
1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 375. Cook 1 1/2 cups of rice (this should yield 3 cups of cooked rice) according to package directions. (Minute rice is not advised for this recipe). Cut chicken and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Slice mushrooms, chop the onion and mince the garlic clove. Melt butter and sauté the mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and cook until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add both cans of soup and stir until combined and hot. Add 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese and stir until melted (this could take about 5 minutes before the cheese is completely melted).
Grease or spray a 3 quart casserole dish. Spread rice evenly on the bottom. Put broccoli on top of rice. Pour about 1/3 of the soup mixture over the broccoli and rice. Add chicken and top with remaining sauce. Top with remaining two ounces of cheese.
Cover with with foil and cooked covered for the first 45 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.