Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken, Mushroom and Green Bean Casserole

I've had a love affair with casseroles that started way back when I thought I knew how to cook. The simplicity of throwing together canned meats, veggies, and soup, then tossing it in the oven meant that I could have dinner ready in a little over a half hour. I've matured (culinarily speaking) in the past few years and learned a few things about nutrition along the way. I no longer like to use so many canned and processed foods, but the basic idea behind a casserole still excites me (culinarily speaking.) They're one dish meals that are great to make for a crowd, transport easily, and store and reheat without a lot of fuss. You remember the old green bean casserole that was a staple at every Thanksgiving gathering? The one with cream of mushroom soup and canned Durkee onions? Well, that was what inspired this recipe. I had some fresh green beans and mushrooms to use up and a couple of chicken breasts needed a dish to call home. And instead of the Durkee fried onions on top? I decided to incorporate onions into the sauce and call it a day.

Chicken, Mushroom and Green Bean Casserole

2 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 bell pepper (any color) diced
12 oz button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used skim milk)
3 oz shredded swiss cheese (I used 2% slices)
3 cups green beans (steamed in microwave for 4 mins)
3/4 cup brown rice, cooked in chicken broth per package instuctions
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

In large skillet brown chicken breasts (seasoned with salt and pepper or your choice of spices) in 1 Tbsp olive oil, skin side down over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet and place in preheated 375 degree oven. Finish baking for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove skin and bone and dice or shred meat. Set aside.

In same skillet add the other Tbsp olive oil and saute onions, celery and peppers for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms lose their moisture, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme. Cook flour for several minutes to remove raw taste, then stir in chicken broth, milk and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted.

Add in the chicken and rice and transfer to a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with parmesan cheese and place in 350 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

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