Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving, Part Four

Thanksgiving day was spent at my best friend's house and I reported earlier on that. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will spend with my Dad and my stepmother at their house in Franklin County. Last April Dad remarried. It is such a delight whenever I see him and Betty Jo together. They just exude happiness.

In the late sixties and early seventies Dad built and maintained a late model stock car. His shop was in the back of a local body shop owned and operated by a good man named David Clark. It was located on Cherward St. in Collinsville, on property now occupied by KFC, the fried chicken place. I first met Betty Jo then. She was the wife of David Clark, and as a youngster I thought she was a very nice lady. David passed on some time ago, and circumstances I am not fully aware of (hey, I haven't asked) brought Dad and Betty Jo to a re-meeting. Needless to say, I was pleased when they married on a rainy day this past spring.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner will be a potluck type of affair, with everyone bringing something. I will be bringing my chicken and wild rice casserole. I have no wild turkey to make my wild turkey casserole with, so I'll fall back on this proven crowd pleaser. Get your pencil and paper ready, for another I'm Not Emeril cooking show is about to ensue.

This recipe will serve eight hearty adult diners, so you may want to adjust things accordingly if you want to serve this to your family.

Gather together the following stuff;
  • 6 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts
  • 2 packages quick cooking wild rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 packages frozen French green beans, thawed and drained
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream or milk
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Of course you want a pre-heated 350 degree oven. For the chicken I use frozen chicken tenderloin strips, available in most market freezer sections in one to three pound units. To cook these I heat a large skillet, coated with a liberal dose of olive oil, and sweat about a half cup of finely chopped onion. When the onion has turned translucent I add two mashed cloves of garlic and continue until the garlic is nicely browned. At this point, remove the garlic. Nothing in this world tastes worse than burned garlic. Remove as much of the onion as possible and cook a few of the thawed chicken strips at a time, adding olive oil if needed. About twelve nice sized chicken strips will provide the six cups of chopped chicken needed. Now let's clarify the term "chopped". I don't mean minced. I don't mean tiny little pieces. Just cut it up into many small chunks, don't go overboard and achieve the consistency of chopped barbeque.

While you are frying the chicken strips you can also be preparing the wild or long grain brown rice. Just follow Zaterain's or Uncle Ben's directions and you will do fine. Also, you can be thawing the frozen green beans. You really don't need me to tell you how to thaw frozen green beans, do you?

Once the chicken and rice are done, and the green beans have been thawed, combine them all in a buttered 9x13 casserole dish. Grab a small saucepan and melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute or so, just until the onions have wilted a bit. Now add the flour and whisk with a wire whisk to thoroughly blend the flour into the melted butter. When the flour is thoroughly blended, add the chicken stock, whisk and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture heats back up after the addition of the stock, add the cream and bring to a simmer again. After a few minutes the sauce will begin to thicken, at that point pour the sauce over the chicken and rice mixture in the casserole. Sprinkle a liberal covering of parmesan over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

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