Some Assembly Required

food networkSometimes I pretend I’m on Food Network’s Chopped and open my fridge and pantry as though it is the wicker basket on the set. Then I create a new recipe with whatever I have on hand. As Lori Greiner on Shark Tank would say, “Sometimes it’s a hero, and sometimes it’s a zero.”

penguinToday after returning from running an errand, and in an attempt at avoiding the papers I need to grade, I decided to make dinner a bit early. Truth be told, I wanted to do something in the kitchen so I could watch the Penguins hockey game, something I really can’t do while grading papers!

rotisserie chickenSo, first I assessed what was on hand: a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, something I usually use as a protein boost to a pot of ramen noodles. I didn’t have much in the way of vegetables except for a red bell pepper, one onion, and a bag of pre-cut broccoli. Digging around in my pantry I found a bag of Basmati Rice Medley, rice medleya Trader Joe’s staple. I also found in there a can of cream of mushroom soup.

A chicken and rice casserole was coming to mind so I grabbed my rice cooker and got the rice started. In a five-quart pot, I sautéed on low heat the chopped onion and red bell pepper in a stick of butter, seasoned that with Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, herbes de Provence, and crushed red pepper flakes. While the aromatics slowly simmered to supple softness, I chopped the broccoli and deboned the rotisserie chicken, chopping up the white and dark meat. I added the chicken and broccoli to the pot, along with the can of cream of mushroom soup. It looked a bit dry, considering I was going to add the rice once it was cooked, so I added a soup can of 1% milk and stirred it all together. I left it on low heat so the milk and cream of mushroom soup could thicken into a nice sauce holding all the other ingredients together.

cream of mushroomWhen the rice cooker chimed, I added rice to the soupy mixture until it looked to be the consistency of mac and cheese. I poured it all into a five quart casserole dish that had been sprayed with Pam, topped it with Progresso Italian style bread crumbs, and popped it into a 350 degree oven until it was bubbling and golden brown on top.

bread crumbsConsidering I used a rotisserie chicken, a pre-seasoned rice mix, and cream of mushroom soup, you can hardly call this cooking. Alright, I did sauté the onion and red bell pepper, and I did chop up the broccoli, but this was much more assembly than cooking. That being said, this chicken and rice casserole will make a lovely Sunday evening dinner served alongside a nice green salad. Best part? This will make me a very happy camper at lunch time all this week as I pop a lunch-size Tupperware of this in the faculty room microwave! Even if it was more assembly than cooking, it’s definitely a hero!

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