I'm not sure what makes this gourmet…. Almonds?....Celery?..... Canned Cream of Chicken Soup?..... Maybe it’s the obligatory layer of cheese on top?
Well, whatever the mystery gourmet element might be, this flash from my past is a total home run.
I treasure this old recipe card because it reminds me of when I was first married and learning how to cook (with canned soup and mayonnaise). This casserole was something I turned to many, many times when having company or attending a potluck. It comes to me from a friend of my mom’s, Mrs. Knaus. Can you imagine how fun it must have been back in the day when couples got together to have drinks and dinner together. Make a big casserole. Maybe play cards for the evening. That's the kind of friends they were and still are to this day. In fact, as I write this, a bunch of their group is in Hilton Head enjoying time together and eating great food too, I am sure of it. (Mrs. Knaus, are you out there….anyone from the West Racquet Club? – Hello!)
Here’s what you need: I doubled the recipe – one to eat, one to freeze
2 C cooked chicken breast, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C diced celery – sautéed
1 C rice
½ C slivered almonds – toasted
½ C mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice – (Ah Ha! Gourmet element revealed! )
(maybe some chicken stock to loosen the mass a bit)
Cheddar for the top
Here’s what you do:
There is really only one way in my opinion to make great chicken breasts. Start with bone in and skin on. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper. Bake for about 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the breast. They are done when a knife inserts easily and all juices run clear. Cool for about 20 minute, remove and discard skin, dice meat and use bones for broth. (Thank you Ina Garten!)
Cook the rice. Toast the almonds. Saute the celery in a bit of oil and maybe some water till crisp tender.
Mix it all together. I did loosen the whole affair a bit today with some chicken stock. Cover with shredded cheddar. Bake until bubbly and glorious.
|Set the table, light some candles, turn off the TV and eat together. You can see it's not fancy at our house: casserole, roasted carrots and garlic toast. Just do it. |