Crusty Chicken Casserole
Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 tsp. Dried basil leaves, or 1 1/2 tsp. Fresh
  • 1 Stick salted butter, plus more, at room temperature, for the baking dish
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts, cut into small, diced pieces (2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves, or 1 1/2 tsp. Fresh
  • 3/4 tsp. dried tarragon leaves, or 1 1/2 tsp. Fresh
  • 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 3 cups roughly chopped, cooked chicken
  • 2 Cups Gouda or Asiago
  • 2 cups coarsely ground, lavosh or butter crackers (about 2 sleeves)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare Rice in a boiling pot as directed. Add plenty of salt to season. Approximately 20 Minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°.
While the rice cooks, heat the butter in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and celery and season with 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the flour to the vegetables and stir until well combined with the butter. Pour in the cream and bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent any lumps. Add the cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat until the floury taste dissipates, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, rice and half of the cheese; heat until the cheese melts.
Put the crushed crackers in a heavy plastic bag and add 1/4 tsp. pepper and the olive oil. Shake to combine; set aside.
Rub a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of soft butter. Pour the hot dish mixture into the dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.
Pull the dish from the oven, sprinkle the cracker mixture evenly over the top and bake until the crackers turn a dark golden-brown and the casserole bubbles in the center, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


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