On page 172 of the 2007 Old Farmer's Almanac, the original Ben Franklin, Old Farmer's Almanac (beware of the copycats) you'll find a recipe published by yours truly, she writes grinning wildly. I won second place in their rice recipe contest. They also have it on the almanac website, I'm sure just for me so I can stare at my name in print for several hours a day grinning like a fool. After all, it IS the Farmer's Almanac, not some little regional magazine with a circulation of 13 people on a mountain top in Tibet. It made my heart go pitterpat to pick it up in the grocery store and flip open the page to find my name. I know it's only a recipe but I'm excited anyway.
But then God, in His/Her wisdom slapped me down last night. I made the recipe to post here today but I must have definitely been getting too big for my britches in my own mind because it turned out like excrement, in looks anyway. It tasted delicious but the pics are bad. Bad. I've debated whether to post them or not but I should probably take my comeuppance with a little humility. When I explain why they're so bad you'll all understand immediately.
Let me cut to the chase: I followed none of my own directions and it came back to bite me in the butt.
Here's the original recipe:
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
- 1 box wild rice mix
- 4-6 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the rice according to the package directions. Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a greased 13x9-inch casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine the rice with all of the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Spoon the rice mixture around the chicken breasts. Sprinkle the cheese on the chicken and rice. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook 15 minutes more, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly and the chicken is cooked through. Serves 4 to 6.
This works best for small chicken breasts, for example, the 5 ouncers that come individually wrapped from Schwan's. Also, the timing is right if you put the casserole together with the rice hot off the stove from having just prepared it and you use a large casserole dish like instructed so the total layer is thin so the chicken cooks faster.
However, I did none of those things.
What I did do, and all of this led to my downfall was:
1) Substituted bone-in thighs because Gene prefers dark meat and I was feeling too lazy to bone.
2) Substituted an 8" x 8" casserole dish because....I don't know why.
3) Put the casserole together and then stuck it in the fridge all day, then went directly from fridge to un-pre-heated oven because my hair appointement went late and I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
So the upshot of my experiment, Rappaccini, is that although it still tasted great, the veggies and rice turned to grey mush by the time I got the *&^%*&% chicken cooked through. Yes, with eyes cast down, I admit there was much cursing in my kitchen last night. I really wish I'd followed through on the urge to take pics of the rice after I'd added all the veggies to it before the dish was baked. It was brightly colorful and woodsy looking at the same time, so pretty. And then an awful baking accident happened to it that left it marred.
But what the hell. They can't all be gems. We've all been there; done that. But don't shy away from the recipe because of the pics. It really is a lovely and easy little casserole with lively crunch and flavor that's great for a quick family meal when you don't have a lot of prep time.