April 8th, 2005


Decadent comfort cookery for a dreary day

Yesterday was summer ... today has been chilly, cloudy, rain-spitty (if you're gonna rain, RAIN!) and all-round icky. A perfect time to indulge in a scrummy casserole:

4 chicken legs and breasts or large cut-up chicken
1 large (19 oz.) can of mushroom soup (cream of celery and cream of broccoli are also good)
1/4 cup milk
2 cups old cheddar, grated (medium works fine, as does Monterey Jack or any other hard'n'heat tolerant cheese)

Place chicken pieces in casserole. Mix soup with milk, pour over chicken. Cover with grated cheese and sprinkle paprika on top. Cover and bake at 350F for 2 hours. Uncover and brown for 1/2 to 1 hour longer ... you want a crunchy, slightly browned (but not burned) cheese crust on the top.

That's the official version. Because I like to have LOTS of leftovers (and this one tastes even better reheated than the first time 'round), I buy enough chicken pieces to fill my 16"x12"x2" roasting pan (this isn't a wimpy cake pan; it's heavy-duty and is enameled with the same white-speckled, dark navy coating as regular roasting pans ... ideal for cooking large-scale casseroles) and increase the soup/milk mixture and cheese to match. Tonight's little feast is made up of chicken thighs and 3 10 oz. tins of cream of broccoli soup (plus enough milk to make it pourable), and a blanket of medium cheddar (of a decent creamy white colour ... not that scary dyed-orange stuff), sprinkled with Spanish paprika (has more flavour than the regular stuff). Although I was too lazy tonight, I also sometimes add lavish amounts of chopped onion and/or celery to the mix (the long cooking time would reduce most veggies to mush, but these survive quite nicely).

Being cooked in milk does something amazing to chicken ... it practically melts off the bones and has a texture like edible fine satin. That, coupled with the cheese crust, is enough to make the tastebuds sing and definitely justifies the long wait while it cooks! :-))))
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