Roasted Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole with Dried Cherries


One of my late husband's favorite dishes was this one...only 20 years ago I didn't use a roasted chicken, fresh mushrooms, white wine and dried cherries. This dish is great for dinner for the family, lunch for the girls, and even reheated for a snack the next day. It also freezes beautifully. The water chestnuts and celery add crunch, while the dried cherries add a touch of sweetness. And I don't think I need to convince you that a roasted chicken has so much more flavor than

1/2 lb fresh mushrooms (I use cremini and Portobello), roughly chopped
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup flour
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup whole milk
1 whole roasted chicken, pulled apart and cut into chunks
2 boxes Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice mix, cooked
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 oz can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp salt
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted in the oven and chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
3 cups chicken broth
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan or something of about the same size. Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until tender, and then put juice and all in a bowl. In the same skillet, melt the stick of butter and saute the onion until tender. Stir in the flour, cooking for 2-3 minutes, or until all the flour and butter are incorporated. Slowly add the 3 cups of chicken broth into the flour/butter mixture, stirring the entire time. Add the half and half and the milk and cook until the mixture is thickened. I use a whisk to make sure the white sauce, which this really is, does not burn on the bottom of the pan. After the mixture is thickened, add the white wine and stir. If your pan is large enough, you can proceed, but I dump the whole mixture into a very large bowl. Add the mushrooms, chicken, rice, toasted almonds, salt, water chestnuts and dried cherries. Mix well and then pour into the prepared casserole. Bake uncovered, about 20-30 minutes, or until the top is just starting to brown. You don't want the casserole to be dry, so if not sure, err on the side of the casserole being too creamy...everything is already cooked anyway.


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