Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish with Kale

The evolution of a recipe name:

START: Cheese, Chicken, Carrots, Kale and Wild Rice Casserole

Cheese, Chicken, Carrots, Kale and Wild Rice Casserole

Cheese, Chicken, Kale and Wild Rice Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Kale and Wild Rice Casserole

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Kale

END: Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Hot Dish with Kale

How about we just call this dish…”what I had in the refrigerator covered in the creamiest cheese sauce ever,” sound okay?

Wild Rice, Carrots and Kale
This afternoon I checked out the weather forecast for next week and saw the words ‘wind chill’ in the mix. That can only mean one thing in Minnesota: it’s hot dish time. I put on my wool socks, turned on Sunday football and set to work on making my first 9 x 13″ meal of the winter.

Chopped Kale

One might think that hot dish is a staple in our locavore house. Traditional family recipes, mostly vegetables, all meant for pot-luck style eating with friends and family. Except that my all-time favorites have names like tater tot, tuna noodle and pepperoni pizza. It’s tough in a “cream of” canned soup world to find a great hot dish recipe that is a great locavore recipe too. I’ve opened up the “Best of Minnesota Hot Dish”-style cookbooks only to find 1 or 2 choices that can easily be substituted with local ingredients. One of the things that makes a good hot dish is how fast it stirs up. If I’ve gone to the trouble of making biscuits or cream of mushroom soup from scratch–trust me–there’s no way I’m going to mix it in a hot dish.

Wild Rice Hot Dish

Instead I do what I did for today’s recipe and start with what’s in the fridge:  Saute the veggies. Today we had carrots and kale, sometimes it’s corn, tomatoes and peppers for a chili-style hot dish. Sometimes it’s potatoes, broccoli or green beans. Then I add in some pre-cooked meat. Chicken, turkey or ground beef are first choices, but I’ve been known to slice a few bratwurst or use beans. Sometimes I mix in a cooked whole grain like rice, barley or millet. Or pasta if it’s a need-a-noodle kind of day. Then I top it with a quick cheese, white or tomato sauce. Bake at 350° and there’s dinner + leftovers for the next day.

Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish

That means when it comes to naming my hot dish meals, it takes a few more revisions. There’s no ‘pizza in a bowl,’ ‘egg bake’ or ‘green bean supreme’ here. I like to think it’s just a matter of semantics. They may not have the best names, but they’re full of the comfort food in size 9 x 13 we all love about a good hot dish.

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish with Kale

Adapted from The Picky Palate

For the veggies
3 Tablespoons chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 cups steamed brown rice
2 cups steamed wild rice
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
+ more for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9 x 13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots and garlic in 3 tablespoons of chicken broth for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and rice to pan and heat until warm. Add in kale with a tablespoon of water. Cover and steam 3 minutes until kale is just tender. Season with salt and pepper.

3. While vegetables are cooking, begin cheese sauce. Melt butter in a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. When butter is bubbly, rapidly whisk in flour until it forms a paste. Continue whisking until bubbly. Slowly pour in chicken broth while continuing to whisk. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until mixture is thick and creamy. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until just melted. Immediately remove from the heat to prevent separation.

4. Spread vegetables and rice mixture in the baking dish. Cover with cheese sauce. Gently toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with a few more tablespoons of cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.

One Comment

  • liz | carpé season

    I sat down next to Eric on the couch tonight. And his exact words were:
    “Go to Minnesota Locavore…..Wait for it (as the page loads)…yeah, how good does that look?”
    Apparently, this hot dish is on our menu for this week 🙂
    Looks delicious, no matter how it’s named!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.