Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chicken Noodle Casserole

I have not baked a chicken in the oven since rotisserie chicken became available from the big box store in my neighborhood.  These moist, plump and flavorful chickens are undeniably better than the ones I made, so I began focusing on sides to accompany this main course.

But when my friend, Michael, introduced me to the vacuum packed bags filled with white meat freshly pulled from the rotisserie chickens and found in the refrigerator display, it changed my world.  I now always have fresh chicken pulled from the bone on hand which has encouraged me to develop interesting, new recipes.

This recipe for Chicken Noodle Casserole is by no means new, but for years it has been one of my heartwarming, comfort foods, so I thought I would share it with you.
§     2 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup or homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup (see recipe below)
§     1 1/2 cups milk
§     1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
§     2 cups frozen mixed vegetables …carrots, green beans, corn and peas (I prefer to add peas and corn only)
§     1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
§     2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded
§     12 ounces of medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
§     2 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
§     1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
§     1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
§     1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
§     1/2 stick of room temperature butter or cooking spray to prepare casserole dish.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Add the egg noodles and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes and drain.  Prepare casserole dish by buttering with room temperature butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray. 
In a large bowl mix together the soup, milk, sour cream, frozen vegetables, Parmesan cheese, thyme, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the shredded Cheddar cheese.
Add the cooked chicken and noodles and fold together.
Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.  To freeze the casserole for a later time, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into the freezer.  To bake, place the casserole dish in a preheated oven until bubbly and lightly brown on top.
Before removing from the oven, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese.  Return to oven for 1 – 2 minutes until the cheese melts.
Remove from oven and serve warm.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Chicken Noodle Casserole. Enjoy!

Note:  I like my casserole to be creamy, so I bake it wrapped in plastic wrap.  Yes….I bake my casserole while it is tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.  Plastic wrap will not melt unless your oven is over 500 degrees or you have the broiler element turned on. If you prefer a dry, crispy casserole, bake openly or covered with foil.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup:

To make homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup first prepare the mushrooms.  Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small Dutch oven.  Add 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 4 – 5 minutes.  After the mushrooms are cooked, add salt and pepper to taste.  (Do not salt the mushrooms while they are cooking as the salt will draw out the water from the mushrooms and they will not brown) Remove from pan and set aside.  To make a roux, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small pan. When butter is melted, add 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk together over medium-low heat for a minute or two just to get the raw taste out of the flour.  While whisking, add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of milk and continue to cook until thick and smooth. To speed up the process, I sometimes pour the broth and milk into a heat resistant cup and warm in the microwave before adding it to the roux.  Once the white sauce is thick and smooth, lower the heat and add the mushrooms.