Lightened up Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole – finely chopped veggies sautéed, seasoned and then mixed in with a wild rice blend and chopped up chicken pieces. Everything is then covered and cooked in chicken stock and white wine until the rice is fluffy the the chicken cooked through. While the casserole is baking, prepare your homemade crispy, crunchy bread crumbs for sprinkling over the top at the end. Enjoy this dish topped off with a bit cheese or leave it out for a dairy free alternative. | Gluten Free + Dairy Free Option
With fall right around the corner, our summer days are already getting shorter and the air cooler. The time for cozy casserole dinners are creeping in and I for one am all about it.
Unlike most chicken and wild rice casseroles, this dish is filling and hearty without being too heavy with creams and canned soups. It’s packed full of finely ground up veggies and cooked in stock and white wine for a healthy, elegant and comforting dinner you can make all season long!
How to Make this Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
- Pulse veggies in food processor: Roughly chop the carrots and celery into smaller chunks then pulse in a food processor until finely ground then repeat with the mushrooms.
- In the pictures below I show the mushrooms, carrots and celery all in the processor together – I’ve since made this recipe a few more times and I’ve found that things blend easier if you separate the blending of the mushrooms from the carrots and celery.
- Sauté the onion, followed by the veggie mix: Starting out with the onion, sauté about 4-5 minutes to soften. Give the onion a little time to cook on it’s own then add in the ground up/finely chopped veggie mixture of carrots, celery & mushrooms. Continue to cook another 5-6 minutes to soften veggies.
- Add the rice & herbs: Not much to this step – simply mix the wild rice blend in to the veggies along with the dried herbs.
- Add chicken, liquids & bake: One last step being baking, add the cut up chicken pieces to the dish and then gently stir in the chicken stock and white wine. Carefully mix everything together. Try to push the chicken pieces into the rice, submerging them fully in liquids to keep the top from drying out. Then just place the pan into your preheat oven and bake!
How to Make the Bread Crumbs + Topping
While the casserole is baking you should being working on the breadcrumb topping. To make: add a few pieces of gluten free bread (stale or fresh – both work!) into your food processor and pulse until you get a chunky, sandy kind of mixture. Ideally you want small crumbs with some larger chunks left in tact.
Once the bread has been pulsed into a crumb-mixture, lightly fry it all in either olive oil or butter on a low heat until the bread begins to crisp up. Taste the breadcrumbs and lightly salt the bread if needed. If you like, you can also sprinkle in a little garlic powder or dried herbs for a more seasoning crumb topping.
Once the bread crumbs have crisped up enough, remove the pan from the heat to stop it from continuing the to cook, then set aside until it’s time to top the casserole.
After about 40 minutes of baking, remove the wild rice casserole from the oven. Top with grated cheese (if using) and the homemade bread crumb mixture, then pop back in the oven to cook for a final 15-20 minutes and that’s it.
Questions, Tips & Substitutions
Can I make this without a food processor?
- Absolutely! A food processor is a great tool to utilise if you have one. It makes the veggie and breadcrumb prep fast and easy, but you can 100% prep this recipe with nothing more than a cutting board and a good kitchen knife.
- When it comes to prepping the veggies simply dice the carrots, celery and mushroom to your desired size. As for the breadcrumbs, just roughly chop into small, bite sized pieces and crumbs.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
- Chicken thighs are better for this recipe because they don’t get dry like chicken breast does after cooking for so long. However, if you would like to make this with chicken breast you can easily do so with a couple alternations.
- To make with chicken breasts, don’t add to the casserole to bake for the initial 40 minutes. While casserole is baking, lightly cook your chicken in a separate pan – it doesn’t need to fully cook through, just enough to get the outsides cooked. After the casserole cooks for the first 40 minutes, stir in the mostly cooked chicken then top with the cheese and breadcrumb mixture. Cook for 20-25 minutes and that’s it.
Do I have to use an oven safe pan or skillet?
- If you don’t have an oven safe skillet or pan large enough, just transfer the casserole to a lightly grease 9×13 inch casserole dish to bake instead.
Can I omit the wine?
- Yes! If you don’t want to use wine just use more chicken stock in place of the wine. I recommend adding a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice as well to add some acid to the dish.
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Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Lightened up Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole - finely chopped veggies sautéed, seasoned and then mixed in with a wild rice blend and chopped up chicken pieces. Everything is then covered and cooked in chicken stock and white wine until the rice is fluffy the the chicken cooked through. While the casserole is baking, prepare your homemade crispy, crunchy bread crumbs for sprinkling over the top at the end. Enjoy this dish topped off with a bit cheese or leave it out for a dairy free alternative. | Gluten Free + Dairy Free Option
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (45 ml) or butter (42 g)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, rough chopped
- 3 large celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup dry wild rice blend (ensure gluten free if needed)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 1/2 cup chicken stock (600 ml)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, or more chicken stock (120ml)
- 1 cup grated cheese, optional (edam, cheddar and gruyere are all good options)
- Fresh parsley for serving, optionals
Toasted Bread Crumbs
- 4 slices gluten free bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Warm the olive oil or butter in a large, oven safe pan or skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, prep the veggies. Roughly chop the carrots and celery then add them to a food processor and pulse everything together into a course, crumbly mixture. Depending on the size of your processor you may need to do this in a couple of batches. Once chopped, remove the carrots and celery from the processor then add the mushrooms and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the ground up veggies to the skillet and continue cooking another 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in wild rice, parsley and thyme. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet then pour in the chicken stock and wine. Gently stir everything together.
- Cover with a fitted lid or foil then place in the middle of the oven and bake for 40 minutes. While the casserole is baking prep the breadcrumbs.
- To make the breadcrumbs: Tear your pieces of bread into bite-sized pieces then toss in the food processor. Pulse until your bread has broken up into smaller crumbs and pieces.
- Warm a medium sized skillet over a medium heat with butter or oil. Pour the ground up bread crumbs into the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. The breadcrumbs should be golden and crispy. Set aside to cool.
- After 40 minutes, remove the casserole from the oven along with the lid. Gently fluff up the rice by stirring the casserole. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the rice (if using) followed by the toasted bread crumbs.
- Return the uncovered dish to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed and serve with fresh parsley and enjoy.
- If you don't have an oven safe skillet or pan large enough, just transfer the casserole to a lightly grease 9x13 inch casserole dish to bake instead.
- Chicken thighs are better for this recipe because they don't get dry like chicken breast does after cooking for so long. However, if you would like to make this with chicken breast you can easily do so with a couple alternations.
- To make with chicken breasts, don't add any chicken to the casserole to bake for the initial 40 minutes. While casserole is baking, lightly cook your chicken in a separate pan - it doesn't need to fully cook through, just enough to get the outsides cooked. After the casserole cooks for the first 40 minutes, stir in the mostly cooked chicken then top with the cheese and breadcrumb mixture. Cook for 20-25 minutes and that's it.
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