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A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE… CHICKEN, WILD MUSHROOM, AND WILD RICE CASSEROLE

Ingredients

6 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ¼ cups carrots, peeled and cut into ½” dice

1 ¼ cups celery, chopped into ½” pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1-pound wild mushroom mix, sliced (any combo shitake, cremini, oyster, etc…)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, stemmed and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stemmed

½ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup light cream

½ cup milk

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

4 cups cooked boneless chicken breast, shredded into bite-size pieces

3 ⅓ cups wild rice blend, cooked according to package directions (about 1 ½ cups raw rice)

3 cups Jarlsberg or good quality Swiss cheese

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and red pepper to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until the carrots are just fork tender.  Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme to the pan and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms release their juices and vegetables begin to lightly brown.

Add the flour to the pan and stir until the flour is all absorbed and the mixture is dry, about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock to the pan and stir until thick.  Add the cream and milk and continue stirring until a velvety sauce forms. Season with the salt and pepper.

Fold in the chicken, cooked rice, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Pour half of mixture into a 9” x 13” baking dish prepared with non-stick spray.  Top with 1 cup of the remaining shredded cheese.  Place the rest of the mixture in the pan and finish with the remaining cup of shredded cheese.

Combine the panko and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned.  Spread over the top of the casserole.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Garnish with thyme sprigs.

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