Casserole ideal in a busy pinch

Published 10:50am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NATCHEZ — With its longer days, spring usually finds me in my yard every afternoon. This year finds me at my computer finishing lists for Matthew’s upcoming wedding or on the phone with his sister, Holly, planning the seating and decorations for his rehearsal dinner.

With both of us working and other things vying for our attention, Matthew and I rarely seem to get a second to sit down to dinner, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t both digging in the refrigerator around 6 p.m.

One of my favorite casseroles will come in handy this week while he squeezes in some golf and I finalize plans for his June wedding in Kentucky. Not only does this chicken Rotel make enough to enjoy now, but also it freezes beautifully. I usually fill up several one-serving containers for later when we are in another time crunch.

Chicken Rotel Casserole

5 chicken breasts, boiled and chopped, save the broth

2 large onions, chopped

2 large green peppers, chopped

1 stick margarine

1 16 ounce package thin spaghetti (vermicelli)

2 10-ounce cans of Rotel

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 8-ounce can of sliced mushrooms, drained

1 2-pound package of Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

 

I am careful when I boil my chicken to not let it overcook. Boiled chicken can be stringy and tough, and it can affect the overall taste of your casserole. I place my chicken breast in a pot of cool water and turn it on medium heat. I add some peppercorns, salt, and depending what I will be using the broth for, perhaps a quartered onion and a stalk or two of celery. When the water begins to bubble I turn it down on medium-low and let them cook until just done. Be sure you use enough water, you are going to need about two quarts of broth.

When the chicken is done, take it out with a slotted spoon and let it cool enough to shred or chop, whichever you prefer. Turn your broth up to medium high and cook your thin spaghetti until just done and scoop it out and set aside. Don’t get rid of your broth, and keep it on the stove on warm.

In a skillet, melt your margarine and sauté your peppers and onions until soft, pour the margarine and vegetables into a large bowl. Add the Rotel, (I mash mine up with a fork), Worcestershire, soup, mushrooms and cubed cheese. Slowly add some of the warm broth and stir until the cheese begins to melt and become creamy. Add in your chicken and spaghetti. Now add in just enough of the hot broth so that the dish is just slightly soupy. Remember you are going to bake it and you don’t want it to be dry.

Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish that you have sprayed with nonstick spray and cook on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If I am putting some in the freezer, I put it into one serving size bowl with lids and freeze. When I serve them, I pop them out into a small skillet and turn on low. As it thaws and heats, stir occasionally.

 

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.

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