Chicken and Rice Casserole—Uncondensed

Gluten-Free Chicken and Rice Casserole from Gluten Free Easily

I’ve never liked condensed or abridged versions of books. It’s always seemed like a type of blasphemy to me to alter original stories. Plus, I have always wondered what parts were left out, and if, in condensing, the story perhaps took on a slightly different meaning. Certainly we see that type of thing in the media; one statement taken out of context has a completely different meaning. So it’s ironic that for years I was content to make an array of recipes using condensed soups. I was the perfect consumer of the various condensed soups. At one point I even had a cookbook that consisted completely of recipes using condensed soups.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about one of those recipes lately—a chicken and rice casserole dish that I enjoyed many years ago. It called for not just one can of condensed soup, but two! It was a “go to” recipe back in my single days. I made it a few time in later years, but Mr. GFE never enjoyed it as much as I did. I could still remember the great flavor that the chicken and the condensed soups imparted to the rice. French Onion was the one that was poured over the rice directly. The other soup called for in the recipe was a “cream of” soup of one’s choice. (It was spooned over the chicken, but, of course, also helped flavor the rice as well.) Cream of mushroom, cream of celery, and cream of chicken were all options. But, now, fast forward to today. I’m gluten free and condensed soups are rarely gluten free (certainly, not the ones in my local store anyway). Even if you can eat condensed soups, you might take a look at the ingredients and decide to pass. (I’m passing on more and more these days, particularly because I just watched the movie, Food, Inc.) So, while I was remembering and craving the chicken and rice casserole, I decided I wanted to make it without any condensed soups, making the recipe from scratch like I do for other family favorites.

The easiest way to make many of such dishes is to focus on reduction methods. Now before you click and surf away, that’s not a hard thing at all. It’s easy. Truly. Previously when I’d see the words “reduction sauce,” I used to move on to another recipe myself. But, making a reduction sauce just means that while you’re washing dishes, wiping down the counters, talking on the phone, or sneaking peeks of your guilty pleasure television show, you’re also making a fantastic sauce. Yes, you have to stir occasionally or add an ingredient or two, but it’s not a big deal, and the results are incredibly flavorful because you are using real ingredients, usually without additives/preservatives. Also, remember that reduction sauces are often gluten free in fine restaurants with no flour or gluten ingredients added. Sometimes cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca, and even potato starch, are used. Of course, never assume that a reduction sauce is gluten free; always inquire. (Some restaurant kitchen personnel still rely heavily on flour that contains gluten.)

Less the actual oven time, I was surprised how easily this old favorite came together without condensed soups. When I took my first bite, the taste was exactly what I remembered … no, scratch that—it was actually much better. The onions, beef broth, and portabello mushrooms provided a rich, complex flavor, but yet it was not a heavy dish (which I remember from the condensed version). In short, the uncondensed version is a winner. I predict you and your family will love it! As an added benefit, because it cooks in your oven for 90 minutes, you’re also helping warm the house. With the smells that will waft out, you’ll also get lots of company and questions about what’s cooking, so you’ll have time to catch up with family members as it bakes—that’s always nice!

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Chicken and Rice Casserole—Uncondensed
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • One cup of rice (not quick cooking, I used white rice, if using brown you’ll need to add water several times during cooking and be sure to cook for a longer period of time)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 onion, peeled, quartered, and sliced finely
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup beef broth (I made mine using Herb-Ox bouillon. Better than Bouillon would be equally good. The best would be any homemade beef stock, of course.)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts, split, bone-in (other parts can be used, but you may have to adjust cooking time)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free flour (I used my gluten-free all-purpose flour; see notes)
  • ½ cup beef broth (see notes above)
  • ½ cup milk (I used coconut milk)
  • ½ – 1 lb sliced mushrooms (I used 1 pound of portabello; Mr. GFE loves mushrooms)
Instructions
  1. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
  2. Pour one cup of rice into baking dish, evenly distributing the rice.
  3. In large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion. Stir and continue cooking until onions are darkened and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add garlic. Remove pan from heat momentarily and slowly and carefully stir in beef broth to prevent splattering (and injury). Return to heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mixture is thickened and dark—this will take another 5 minutes or so. Once the mixture looks like that rich, delightful concoction that is French onion soup, pour it over the rice in the baking dish. Slowly add water to the rice mixture. (You can do this in one corner of the dish so as not to disturb the onion mixture you’ve already evenly distributed over the rice.)
  4. At this point, preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
  5. Using the same skillet (you don’t need to clean or wipe it), add another tablespoon of oil (or butter) and heat up a bit. Slowly stir in flour until smooth. Remove from heat momentarily and slowly and carefully stir in beef broth to prevent splattering (and injury). Return to heat and gradually add milk. Stir in mushrooms. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir until thickened.
  6. Place chicken pieces over rice mixture. Sprinkle pepper over chicken breasts to taste. (I used a peppercorn medley that I’ve been enjoying. It included several varieties of peppercorns as well as coriander. I added maybe ½ teaspoon. No salt was needed because of sodium in beef broth.)
  7. Spoon mushroom mixture over chicken pieces.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour and a half if using large chicken breasts, or less if using smaller pieces of chicken. I checked every half hour to see if additional water was needed and did add some. I also covered the dish with aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking.
Notes
I can’t tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers (like large glass jars). No refrigeration is needed. But feel free to use whichever flour mix you use most often for baking.

Shirley
Not just gf, but gfe!

This post is linked to What can I eat that’s gluten free?, Friday Foodie Fix–Riceand Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Comments

35 Responses to “Chicken and Rice Casserole—Uncondensed”

  1. Lauren on November 11th, 2009 11:07 am

    Something about condensed soups have always seemed odd to me – probably because they signaled casseroles or other dishes that weren’t my favourite. However, when my mom recently found a GF Mushroom soup, she was thrilled! I’ve had a lot of soups from that brand, and they’re all wholesome and whatnot, so this one’s okay =D. Anyways, this dish sounds lovely! Great flavours in there.

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 10:54 pm

      Lauren–There are some good gf soups out there. However, they are not readily available to me and even if they were, I’m not sure I’d use them often. It’s just so easy to make dishes without them generally. Just changing one’s mindset about what cooking means … much like the whole gfe concept.

      I hesitated about calling this dish a casserole. I guess in the true sense it is, but it seems like a casserole usually has even more ingredients and layers. I’m so glad you approve … I’d hate to have scared you off with the casserole label. ;-)

      Thanks!

      Shirley

      • Lauren on November 12th, 2009 1:18 am

        Honestly, I like casseroles now, just didn’t enjoy them when I was younger! If you wanted to check, the soup brand was Knorr (It was only the mushroom soup that was similar to condensed soup =D), I love their boxed soups – delicious and easy!

        • Shirley on November 13th, 2009 7:50 am

          Lauren–I see … that’s probably true of many of us. Didn’t like our food mixed together when we were younger. ;-) I don’t find the Knorr website for those in the U.S. to be too helfpul. I did a search on gluten and got zero results. I tried to look at individual products and the ingredient listings were cut off. So, I’ll have to check them out more when I am at the grocery store.

          Thanks!
          Shirley

  2. Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy on November 11th, 2009 6:09 pm

    FANTASTIC! Does coconut milk work well as a sub in most recipes? I’m usually at a loss at what to do with the cream of mushroom recipes? I love that this is dairy free too, we have dairy allergies.

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 11:02 pm

      Hi Cheryl–Welcome to gfe! Thank you. :-) I’ve had great success with coconut milk. At first I thought it was only a good substitute in recipes that I didn’t mind a coconut flavor, but I’m finding it doesn’t really add a coconut flavor most of the time, which is a good thing. It does add those qualities you want in a non-dairy substitute … volume, thickness, richness, etc. I was hesitant about using it in this recipe fearing that it might be too coconutty, but with only half a cup, the mushrooms, beef broth, etc., I thought it would work. Mr. GFE had no idea that I used coconut milk and all I could taste was good! So give it a try. :-)

      Thanks again. Hope to see you again!

      Shirley

  3. Linda on November 11th, 2009 8:36 pm

    I used condensed cream of soups a lot before going gf. It really threw me for a loop trying to cook without them. I ended up turning to Mexican casseroles to replace my soup casseroles. Then I came across an easy recipe for condensed soup that takes minutes to make. Your casserole sounds great. Thanks for linking up!

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 11:33 pm

      Hi Linda–I’m a fan of Mexican casseroles myself. :-) I considered changing this recipe by just topping the chicken with cheese, but I wanted to make it as close as possible to the original. I also wanted to omit diary since so many readers need to avoid dairy. l’d be interested to see your quick and easy recipe for mushroom soup, as I’m sure others would.

      Headed over to see all the other recipes!

      Shirley

  4. glutenfreeforgood on November 11th, 2009 9:27 pm

    I use coconut milk in a lot of dishes. I like the flavor it imparts and it sounds great here with chicken and rice. Love the steaming pan shot, Shirley! You’re getting good at these step-by-step photo journal recipes. The weather is changing, it’s time to move into casseroles like this rather than light salads. This looks like a great meal for a nippy night. Thanks for the idea!

    Melissa
    xo

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 11:40 pm

      Hi Melissa–I appreciate you stopping by with your always positive feedback! I like the process of turning “ingredients” into an appealing dish, so taking shots along the way makes sense to me. So glad you enjoy them. And, I couldn’t resist that steaming pan shot … I’ve taken many photos like that, but they rarely make the blog cut. ;-) While this is a great meal for a chilly night, it’s warming and satisfying, but not heavy. Although neither Mr. GFE nor I ate the portion that was shown in the photo. That was enough for both of us, plus more. :-)

      Shirley

  5. Iris on November 11th, 2009 9:51 pm

    You know us so well…as soon as I saw reduction, I was about to move on, but your next sentence stopped me and made me keep reading!

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 11:44 pm

      Hey there, Iris–I know you all because I am you. :-) The easily part of gfe is serious. I’m not interested in 20-step plus recipes that have me standing at the stove or kitchen counter for hours. I’m going to try this in the crockpot next time. :-)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! It’s nice to know that folks like you actually read what I write. ;-) Hugs,

      Shirley

  6. Katrina (gluten free gidget) on November 11th, 2009 9:53 pm

    I really need to get around to making and posting my dairy free gluten free cream of chicken/mushroom soup recipe.

    • Shirley on November 11th, 2009 11:46 pm

      Katrina–You definitely should post your gf/df cream of recipe … I’m sure others have been wanting just that recipe! :-)

      Shirley

  7. GF PATISSERIE on November 12th, 2009 8:50 am

    About 5 years ago I had a Campell soup phase where I ate Brocoli and Cheese soup three days a week. That cured me for the rest of my life.

    If I can’t make it, I won’t eat it. Soups included.

    • Shirley on November 13th, 2009 7:53 am

      LOL … haven’t we all done the with one product or another? ;-) Soup is really so easy to make. So many folks avoid the kitchen, but making simple dishes (that might require a little time and some attending to like stirring now and then while making a sauce or soup) is good for the soul I think. Of course, the added bennie is that when we’re making it, we know exactly what’s in it. :-)

      Shirley

  8. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free on November 15th, 2009 11:40 pm

    There is nothing better than made-from-scratch and you make it look so eat! I wish everyone knew how easy it is to cook nourishing, healthy food without having to use processed stuff of the grocery store shelves. Wish I could have been there for dinner!

    • Shirley on November 16th, 2009 10:04 pm

      Hi, Amy–Thanks as always for your very sweet and supportive words! I think we can all spread the word that the time spent in the kitchen making simple, healthy meals does not have to be exhaustive at all. Plus, one can find that it’s some of the best time there is … decompressing from the day and letting one’s mind be quiet (always a blessing to me), talking to one’s children in a relaxed mode, etc. Anyway, it would have been great to have had you there for dinner! Oh, and BTW, I took the last little bits of the leftovers and made an impromptu and delicious chicken, rice, and mushroom soup. ;-)

      Thanks, Amy,
      Shirley

  9. Mary on December 29th, 2009 10:12 pm

    Is the coconut milk you use the thick kind (like the Thai kitchen brand that comes in a can), or more like the So Delicious coconut milk (more the consistency of rice or almond milk)? I am assuming the rice is uncooked, correct?

    Looks great, cannot wait to try it!

    Mary

    • Shirley on December 30th, 2009 1:25 pm

      Hi Mary–Looks like you are new to gfe—welcome! Yes, I used the full-fat coconut milk like Thai Kitchen, but I’m sure any of those non-dairy milks should work. It just might take longer to cook down. And, yes, uncooked rice. The timing of cooking the uncooked rice works well with the time needed for the chicken to bake.

      Hope you enjoy the dish! Let us know … especially, if you make any modifications that you like and we could benefit from. :-)

      Thanks so much!

      Shirley

  10. Diane-The W.H.O.L.E. Gang on March 13th, 2010 4:59 pm

    I love the addition of the beef broth and mushrooms to this dish along with the coconut milk. I can see the creaminess and imagine the depth of flavor in this dish. It’s making me hungry! Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on March 13th, 2010 11:42 pm

      Diane–Yes, it was a great recipe. I look forward to making it again. Always nice to recreate an old favorite AND share it on the Friday Foodie Fix. :-)

      Shirley

  11. Elliot Azzam on March 8th, 2011 5:57 pm

    It’s in the oven as I write this and the aromas are making me drool…I’m wondering, does this freeze well? One of the things I miss about our pre-gf/df days is the ease of pulling a casserole out of the freezer and being done with the whole thing.

    • Shirley on March 8th, 2011 9:30 pm

      Hi Elliot–Welcome to gfe! :-) Well, by now you’ve tried it, what do you think? I’ve never frozen this casserole before, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. Chicken, rice, and mushrooms all freeze well. I guess my only concern would be if the coconut milk sauce would separate. I’d suggest taking a small amount of this casserole you made and freezing it and then thawing it out in a few days for a meal to see how it holds up. Then you’d know if a whole casserole would work. Can’t wait to hear what you think … now and then.

      Shirley

  12. Misty on April 12th, 2011 6:27 pm

    Making this for dinner tonight! I am considering adding some carrots and broccoli to the rice part to get some more veggies into my kids (and husband!).

    • Shirley on April 12th, 2011 6:35 pm

      Hi Misty–Welcome to gfe! :-) I really hope you and your family will enjoy this casserole. It’s a flexible recipe. Hope the broccoli doesn’t turn the mixture green. I’ve had that happen with similar saucy type dishes. ;-) Warning–a green dish is a big deterrent to the non-veggie lovers loving the recipe. LOL, but true. Please let us know what you think later.

      Shirley

      • Misty on April 13th, 2011 1:52 am

        Ok, so I put some broccoli on top during the last hour of cooking. Two thumbs up! It didn’t even turn it green. I also grated in some carrots during the onion cooking/add milk stage. Yumminess! Thanks for posting this. It’s refreshing to see a chicken and rice recipe without Campbell’s cream-of-yuckies soup!

        • Shirley on April 13th, 2011 8:03 pm

          Hi again Misty–Great news! Thanks so much for coming back and sharing that news. I like how you handled the broccoli and added in carrots–yum!

          Shirley

  13. Michelle on October 17th, 2012 3:41 pm

    Hi Shirley,
    I stumbled upon your site and this recipe while hunting for the ever-elusive casserole that didn’t rely on Campbell’s soup. What a refreshing change to find such an easy option ready to hand! Thank you for sharing it. I’m going to spend time with a pregnant gluten-free friend tomorrow night, and I think this casserole will really hit the spot once I add in a few more vegetables. Am considering adding a pinch of thyme to the mushroom mixture as well for additional flavour.
    Quick question: I am a novice to gluten-free cooking and don’t have GF flour on hand. I do, however, have corn starch. Are the two interchangeable or would I be flirting with disaster to make that substitution?
    Many thanks for your help, and thanks again for the recipe.

    • Shirley on October 17th, 2012 3:56 pm

      Hi Michelle–Welcome to gfe! Thanks so much for the kind words, and what a gift you are to your friend! :-) I’m sure this casserole will be great with additional veggies, too. Depending on the veggies, they might thicken the mixture quite a bit, too, and you might not need thickener. If you choose to use thickener, cornstarch or arrowroot *should* work. I’ve never tried them in this recipe and while gf flour and neither cornstarch nor arrowroot are interchangeable—at least for thickening such as this—all *should* work. You could even cook a potato, mash that, and use it as thickener if you liked. And, one more idea (if your friend is not also dairy free), is to use some dry milk powder if you have that on hand. Anyway fingers crossed that all will work out and you and your friend will both love this dish! :-)

      Shirley

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