Cool weather makes me hungry for comfort food. Comfort food for me is the food of my childhood, which for me either means fried, sauce-laden or full of carbohydrates. Sometimes it is a combination of these. The combination of cool weather and the month of March make me hungry for some comfort food that my mother has been making since probably 1976. The reason March makes me think of this recipe is that my mother still makes this Chicken and Rice Casserole for my youngest brother’s birthday every year.
Mother told me the other day that she has all of the ingredients except the chicken purchased for the traditional birthday chicken and rice casserole. While this is not the way my mother or I cook or eat regularly she still makes it exactly as the original recipe is written with cans of soup, white rice, and a whole stick of butter.+.
I have made healthier versions of chicken and rice casserole for myself and my family dozens of times. However, the cold front that came in yesterday made me hungry for the unhealthy version. It might have had something to do with having had a few days of 60 – 70 degree temperature only to have a cold and snowy morning yesterday. My subconscious must have wanted processed soups and carbs to replace the spring-like weather!
The family must have been very happy that I needed comfort food, because they loved the full fat unhealthy version of chicken and rice casserole. I did not even need to serve the steamed broccoli on the side, because although it made a lovely accompaniment, the family was content without it.
I believe the real secret of this casserole is the low and slow cooking time. It allows the chicken to be cooked perfectly, but also lets the soupy goodness soak into the rice and marry the flavors together. The use of a whole chicken also contributes to the goodness since everyone can have their favorite piece and the juices of the cut up chicken flavor the rice as well.
If you are a fan of poultry and are in need of a dish of homemade comfort food this is the perfect dish. Give it a try and tell me what you think! What is your favorite comfort food or cold weather dish?
Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 1 – 2 whole chickens (cup up)
- 1 ½ cups white rice (uncooked)
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 soup can of water
- Salt to taste
- Grease a large casserole dish. The dish needs to be large enough to hold all of the cut up chicken pieces in one layer.
- In a saucepan on the stove or a glass bowl in the microwave melt the butter.
- Add soups and water to the butter and mix well.
- Place uncooked rice in bottom of greased casserole dish.
- Pour half of soup mixture over rice and stir to mix.
- Place cut up chicken pieces over rice mixture. Sprinkle chicken with salt and paprika.
- Pour remaining soup mixture over chicken.
- Bake for 3 hours at 275 degrees. Do not cover.
- Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.