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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (Wheat, Nut, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Soy and Milk-Free)

So, in typical Michigan fashion, March is fluctuating wildly with her temps and precipitation choices, and has landed on "winter crazy" for now.  Though all the fresh, white snow is beautiful, I'm more than ready for warmth and flowers.  However, there is a benefit to cold temps - being able to use the oven without fear of overheating the occupants of the house! ;)  That being said, we've made the dish I'm going to share with you a lot over the past few months, and I'm sure we'll be making it again in the next few days.

This recipe (one of my own design) is a definite family favorite, and actually fills up our two teenage boys and our going-through-a-growth-spurt-7-1/2-year-old daughter (which is a feat!), and my husband I even get our fill, too...normally. ;)  I like to think of it as being like a risotto without the fuss. :)  It is creamy and hardy, full of chicken and rice, and is easily customizable to include some good-for-you veggies, making it a one-dish, complete dinner!    It is also wheat, nut, egg and fish-free, and can be soy and milk-free (see variations below).  Awesome, right?  I hope you give it a try, and fall in love with it like our family has. :)

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

1/3 Cup full-fat, salted butter

1/3 Cup gluten-free, cup-for-cup flour

2 to 3 Cups gluten-free chicken stock
(We normally use Pacific brand.)

2 to 3 Cups milk
(We normally use whole milk, but you can use what you have on hand.)

1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

cooked chicken breasts, shredded

1 1/2 to 2 Cups rice, white, brown or a rice blend (NOT cooked and NOT Minute Rice)

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour to the melted butter; stir and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken stock and milk to the butter mixture in the sauce pan, mix well, and heat the mixture until bubbly; remove from heat.  (Note: The amount of stock and milk you use depends on how much sauce you want in your rice.  If you want it saucy, use 3 Cups of each.  If not, use 2 Cups of each.)
  5. Add the liquid mixture to a large bowl with the other spices, shredded chicken and rice, and mix well. (Note: The amount of rice you use depends on how much you want.  If you want a lot of rice, use 2 Cups.  If not, use 1 1/2 Cups.  Also, I highly recommend using a wild rice blend which is just a few different kinds of rice vs. one type.  It tastes the best this way, in my opinion.)
  6. Pour mixture into a greased, 9x13 glass pan and bake in the prepared oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
Makes 1 9x13 pan, which is a minimum of 12 good-sized portions.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using substitutions.  Thank you!):
  • Milk-Free: Use dairy-free butter and milk (SoDeliciousEarth Balanceand Melt are some good allergy-friendly brands, and you can check out some more here).  You can leave the milk out, but you will need to up the stock amount to 4 to 6 Cups.  Make sure you use a milk-free option to grease the pan, as well.
  • Soy-Free: Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour that we use does not claim to contain soy, but it contains guar gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies.  Because it is quite difficult to find a gluten-free flour blend that does not contain guar gum or xanthan gum (which can also cause issues for people with soy allergies/sensitivities), I won't claim this recipe is soy-free already.  You can use regular flour (if you can have it) or a soy-free, gluten-free flour of your choice.  I have also used potato starch or corn starch in place of the gluten-free flour with success.  You'll have to make sure all your ingredients are soy-free, too

  • Vegan/Vegetarian Options: If you are vegan/vegetarian, you can leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock, leave out the milk (as mentioned above), and use a vegan/vegetarian spread for the butter and to grease the pan with.
  • Add Some Veggies: If you desire, you can add frozen or fresh veggies to this casserole.  Broccoli and cauliflower are especially good additions.  I'd start with 8 to 16 oz. and adjust according to preference.
  • Add Some Cheese: If you want to put some shredded cheese on top, you definitely can.  I'd start with 1 to 2 Cups and then adjust according to preference.
  • More Meat: If you want to add more shredded chicken to this recipe, you can, but I'd not add more than one more cook, shredded chicken breast.
  • Add Some Almonds: If you like the idea of adding almonds to the dish or are used to adding them to rice dishes, you could add some slivered almonds when you add the shredded chicken and bake as directed.
  • Make Ahead: You can make this dish ahead easily.  Just do steps 1 - 5, pour the rice in the greased, 9x13 glass pan, cover with foil and stick it in the fridge until you are ready to bake!  I've only ever made it ahead in the morning, but I am sure you could do it the night before as well.  I'm not sure I would make it ahead any more than overnight, though, because I have a feeling it would mess with the rice's texture, but am not 100% on that (If you try it and find out otherwise, let me know!).  I have also not tried turning this into a freezer meal using a foil pan, but if you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Looks good, right?
It is, I promise!

Have a great weekend, and stay safe and warm both inside and out! :)

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