Sometimes, there are just recipes that immediately make you think of home, fond childhood memories, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you got from warm food on a cold night. For me, one of those recipes is chicken divan, and I can’t even begin to tell you why.
I am not, unfortunately, making chicken divan for this recipe. Collective sigh… Tonight, I’m just hungry. Chicken divan takes about an hour to prepare, counting the cooking and shredding of chicken, and another forty-five minutes to bake. I didn’t have that kind of patience tonight, mostly because I worked all day and didn’t take a lunch. It does end up cramping my cooking style… This morning, however, I did have the foresight to take out some chicken thighs. But, when I got home, I knew above all else, I wanted something creamy, hot, and chicken divan-esque…so, I threw this recipe together. And good gracious, it was fantastic. Not chicken divan, but everything short of it.
This is cooked rice combined with condensed mushroom soup and some chopped veggies that creates a most luscious taste in your mouth…rice that melts in your mouth like a dream, surrounded by the creamy soup base that cooks up almost like a pudding. The vegetables studded throughout make it easy to eat and wonderful to look at. This is a great meal for kids, too, because the mild flavors work wonders with them. I only used carrots and onion in mine, but I can definitely see how chopped broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lima beans or even finely-chopped kale would be wolfed down in an instant by even a picky eater.
Pheasant’s Creamy Rice and Mushroom Casserole
1/2 c uncooked white rice
1 c water
1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
garlic powder and cayenne to taste
Set your oven to 350°F (171°C.)
In a small sauce pot, combine the rice and water. Bring it to a boil, then lower to the barest simmer and allow it to cook. Once it’s finished, do not remove the lid. Simply remove the rice from the burner and set it aside; the steaming part is essential to separate grains and to avoid nasty, gluey rice.
While the rice is cooking, line a loaf pan (or double the recipe and use an 8×8 brownie pan) with tin foil. Spray the foil with Pam. Chop the vegetables into approximately uniform pieces and spread them in the pan. You don’t have to be pretty with it…they’ll get all mixed up anyway. Empty the entire can of soup mix into the baking pan and mix it with the vegetables. Empty the entire pan of rice into the baking pan and mix everything all together well, adding spices, tasting and correcting as you go.
Once it’s all mixed, pop that puppy in the oven for 30 minutes. Once finished, take it out and do your best not to eat it until somewhat more cooled. Serve up with your favorite protein, and enjoy!