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October 28, 2012

Slow cooker recipe for my mom's circa-1960 chicken and rice casserole {gluten-free}

My mom's chicken and rice casserole, updated for the slow cooker.

In the 1960s, my parents -- like the parents of all of my friends -- entertained by hosting bridge parties. Out came the card tables and the bowls of Chex mix, the cocktails and rumaki. Occasionally, though, the parties involved dinner, and on those occasions, my mother pulled out her one and only "party" dish, baked chicken and rice casserole with onions and mushrooms. It sounds rather ordinary, I know, but in fact it met the test for great party food: you had to make it in advance, and it was so good that people didn't mind eating it again and again. I haven't had that casserole in many years, but the taste memory stayed with me, and I decided to adapt it for the slow cooker. My mother used chicken pieces on the bone; I went with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, for less fat in the finished dish. In the oven, the onions get a bit browned; I began by caramelizing the onions in the slow cooker before adding the rest of the ingredients. Rice isn't easy to get right in the slow cooker; I substituted converted rice and added it with the chicken. All in all, I loved this recreation of my mother's best dish. If only I'd learned to play bridge.

Chicken and rice casserole, easy in the slow cooker, from The Perfect Pantry.

Slow cooker chicken and rice casserole

From the pantry, you'll need: onions, olive oil, chicken stock, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, cooking spray.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

Cooking spray
4 medium onions, cut into large dice
2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into large cubes
1 cup converted rice
2 cups chicken stock (I use store-bought)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (white button or cremini, or a mix)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

Directions

Spray the inside of a 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add the onions and olive oil, and stir. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

Stir in the chicken, rice and chicken stock. Continue cooking on HIGH for 1 hour.

Then, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook on HIGH for 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Chicken and shrimp jambalaya
Slow cooker chicken in peanut and chile sauce
Slow cooker Filipino chicken adobo
Chicken paella with slow-roasted tomatoes
Three mushroom risotto

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Julia Child's soubise, from Kitchen Parade
Brown rice casserole with leftover turkey (or chicken), mushrooms, sour cream, cheese, and thyme, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chicken and rice chile verde, from Cooking On the Side
Cheesy chicken and wild rice casserole, from Picky Palate
Mushroom and brown rice casserole, from Annie's Eats

Comments

Love the back-story of your post. My parents started playing bridge with several couples from their church in 1965. Forty-seven years later they are still playing together, and are like family. Lots of goodies around when they hosted, or boxes of fancy cookies when we were left with a babysitter! Good memories.

There are not too many bridge clubs these days, are there? And rumaki!! We love it, but I served it at a party once and folks who didn't know what rumaki looked like were not happy after taking a bite. So we abandoned serving rumaki to others. ;-)

Now to that chicken and rice casserole, I have a similar recipe on my blog, but I use the stovetop and oven. I like that you make this dish in the slow cooker. I bet it's delicious and comforting. Great for the next few days if one is on the east coast! We're still away, but might head home this morning. It doesn't seem prudent to keep heading north, even though we're going inland. :-(

Stay safe, dear.
Shirley

You can caramelize onions in the crock pot? I'm liking that a lot.

The chicken and rice dish from my youth wasn't for bridge parties, but was for/from/at church sunday potlucks. It was always too salty for my taste buds, but that is controllable with homemade chicken stock and playing with adding luscious mushrooms adds a whole new dimension to this one-pot meal. Thanks for the memories and the very good ideas!

Karin, I remember coming downstairs in my pajamas to say hello to all of the adults, then being sent back upstairs (with or without a babysitter) for the evening. We got to eat the leftover chicken and rice the next day.

Shirley, my mom used to make this in the oven after browning the chicken and onions on the stovetop. I thought it might be a good candidate for slow cooker adaptation. Stay save, drive carefully, and be wary of the storm.

Janis, there's a recipe here for how to caramelize onions in the slow cooker. It's amazing, and I haven't done it on the stove top since I discovered the slow cooker method. Yes, I remember this dish being incredibly salty, and it's easy to adjust that to our more contemporary taste buds.

I love the idea of making a casserole type dish in the slow cooker! This type of casserole is something my mother made too, and I still love this type of dish.

I'm so glad you posted this, Lydia. The mere thought of comfort food right now is so appealing. It's a nice tribute to your mother, too.

Kalyn, I think all of our mothers had a recipe just like this one. I do wonder where it originated.

Mimi, yes, as we sit in the path of the storm, comfort food is topmost on our minds around here, too. My mother was, pretty much, a terrible cook. This was her one great party dish.

We may need to learn bridge together as grandma tried to teach me as well as sewing so many times. Dang, you kids.

Jennifer, for some reason I never did learn to play bridge. Good think I learned to cook!

Lydia, for some reason bridge never caught on with the next generation. Out of 16 children amongst my parents' bridge group, I am not aware of even one of them who grew up to play bridge. Hope you stay safe from the storm!

Karin, thanks so much. (The storm is just hitting us now.) Bridge never caught on much with my friends, either, though there were a few who played in college.

This sounds like such comfort food - love how you've recreated your mom's dish. They actually have a bridge class locally - it's become quite popular. I haven't learned how to play yet either.

oh how simpler times seem so appealing. I too remember parties my parents threw and I was so excited to stay up just a little later than usual to say hello to the arriving guests before being whisked off to bed!
This is a great dish that I definitely want to try. For some reason I crave to add chunks of orange squash to it - I wonder why?

Jeanette, wish I had some of this comforting chicken dish today (post-Hurricane). It would be perfect.

Carol, same here. I would come downstairs in my PJs, say hello to all of the adults, then go upstairs and wish I were old enough to stay at the party.

I found your post hoping to replicate a dish my MIL made when my husband was a kid in the late 1960s early 1970s. All he could tell me about it was it contained a whole cut up chicken, some broth, and rice. Apparently his mom was not an accomplished cook, and this dish was the only thing she ever made of which he has fond memories - so of course I want to make it for him. Yours here is the closest I've found to what it must've been like. Thank you!

This sounds delicious but it seems to defeat the purpose of the slow cooker when something needs to be put in every hour or so. I like the slow cooker so I can put stuff in before I go to work and dinner is ready when we get home. This might be a slow cooker dish I make with I'm home for the day or maybe I might try it by just putting everything in a once and letting it cook on low all day.

Great story, and an interesting adaptation to purposely use a Slow Cooker.

Sometimes using the wrong tool for the job, just doesn't make sense. Using a slow cooker in this instance would be great for a student in a dorm or someone that just moved into their apartment or house if it's their only appliance.

Having to tediously babysit a conventional casserole, (and then carefully add items over the course of the day) is one of the main reasons people discover the Slow Cooker. The CrockPot/Slow Cooker's prime benefit is "setting it and forgetting it", not "babysitting it"!

I prepared the recipe in a pressure cooker in 35 minutes, (used long grain rice, caramelized the onions, browned the chicken cubes, then pressure cooked everything in the recipe for 25 minutes).

I use a Fagor Classic pressure cooker which works at only 7.9 psi, so it takes a little longer. However, most regular new pressure cookers work at 15 psi, and can cook this recipe much faster than I did, in about 12 minutes.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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