Old School Chicken Casserole

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I used my Cast Iron Baked Chicken to prepare the chicken portion of this recipe. Lesson and recipe is HERE

This is one of the recipes that got me through some very busy years. It enables you to make two dinners at one time. One to freeze and one to bake. You can make both to freeze, or you can “assembly line” several batches of this recipe (2-4) to make 4-8 casseroles to freeze or bake in any combination you choose.

If you are going to “assembly line” this recipe, be sure to stay organized, start early in the day and pace yourself.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1 bunch celery, chopped

2 tablespoons onion powder

1/3 cup flour

6 cups milk (1%, 2% or whole)

1 tablespoon salt

6-7 cups cooked, cubed chicken. I used this recipe to prepare the chicken>

10 cups steamed rice

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups whole wheat panko

In a large electric skillet, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Sautee the celery at a medium heat until it’s softened (about 4 minutes). Add the onion powder and stir. Add 1/3 cup flour and stir constantly until you achieve a nice, smooth roux. Add the milk, 3 cups at a time and continue to stir until it is smooth and bubbly. Turn the heat down and add the chicken and rice. Stir well.

Spray 2 casserole dishes with nonstick spray and fill each with casserole. Top each with 1 cup of shredded cheese and 1 cup of panko.

To bake immediately, cover and bake at 350 degrees, F for 40 minutes. To freeze, cover the casserole with freezer safe lid (plastic lid or aluminum foil). Freeze for up to four months. Defrost on the kitchen counter for 3 hours and bake, covered for about 45 minutes. To bake straight from the freezer, place frozen, covered casserole into a cold oven and turn heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for about an hour.

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