Herbed Chicken Casserole with Wild Rice, Red Rice and Cranberries
Recipe type: Entree
Inspired by Beatrice Ojakangas
  • 6 oz (1/2 bottle) hard cider
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked according to directions and drained of excess liquid (I cooked this in chicken stock)
  • 1 cup red rice (or brown rice of choice), cooked according to directions and drained of excess liquid
  • ¼ cup farro, cooked according to directions and drained of excess liquid (I used semi pearled and threw this in with the wild rice after it had been cooking for a while)
  • ⅓ cup AP flour
  • ½ T French herb salt (or sub 1 t sea salt plus 1 t thyme and ½ t rosemary, see directions below)
  • ½ t paprika
  • black pepper, to taste (approximately ½ t)
  • 4 chicken breast halves
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • ½ T yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 medium-large onions, chopped (I used red but any color is fine)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium or 4 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons or moons, depending on size
  1. Place the dried cranberries and hard cider into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes, and then turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. Prepare the rices and farro according to the various package directions--if possible, cook at least one of them in chicken stock for additional flavor. Drain the grains of any excess liquid and mix together. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a deep 9X13 casserole dish.
  4. Whisk together flour, paprika, black pepper and French Herb Salt (if you do not have the salt, use 1 teaspoon sea salt plus 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herbs, depending on freshness--my herb salt mixture was quite fresh and fragrant).
  5. Pat the chicken breasts quite dry and then dredge them in the flour mixture. Reserve the remaining flour mixture and set the dredged chicken breasts aside, close to your stovetop.
  6. Preheat a large skillet with the oil and mustard seeds. Place a lid on the pan and let the mustard seeds pop on medium high heat. When the popping slows, add the butter. When it has melted into the oil and is preheated, add the chicken breasts and brown on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the onions to the pan quickly, before the mustard seeds can scorch.
  7. Add a pinch of salt to the onions and let them cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Then add the reserved flour mixture, mixing it into the oil, butter and onions. When it is mixed in and cooked for about 30-60 seconds (do not let it burn, but you want the raw flour taste to be cooked away), start drizzling the cream slowly into the pan, stirring constantly.
  8. As you stir, the cream should blend into the fat and onions, becoming smooth and creamy. This is essentially a b├ęchamel sauce, but mixed into a lot of onions. When you run out of cream, switch to the milk. When it is all mixed and smoothly absorbed, add the hard cider, cranberries, zucchini and peppers, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  9. Assemble the casserole: begin by placing the rice mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread half of the veggies in b├ęchamel sauce over the rice. Slice the (halved) chicken breasts in half and layer them over this, dumping any accumulated juices into the casserole as well. Spread the remaining sauce and veggies over the casserole. At this point, the casserole can be cooled, covered and placed in the refrigerator to make ahead. Just bake an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 50-55 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe by The Spiced Life at https://www.thespicedlife.com/herbed-chicken-casserole-with-wild-rice-red-rice-and-cranberries/