I was a product of the eighties, and thus, also a product of casseroles made with condensed soup. Which means, I grew up with chicken and rice casseroles.
It’s the ultimate comfort food for most of us! It’s easy and simple. You just dump the ingredients together and bake. Perfect for busy weeknights when you’re chauffeuring your children to sports and lessons.
Then, my MIL gave us a recipe that included turkey, bacon and no soup. It blew my mind. It also had olives, parm cheese, lemon slices and a few other ingredients. Though I started with her recipe, I adapted it for our family. (I DO NOT EAT OLIVES).
Now, my version is not meant to be a healthy recipe. If you think about it, adding in a few cans of condensed soup with it’s sodium and random ingredients isn’t healthy either. This dish contains bacon and lots of butter, both of which make everything better! But, it’s probably not going to help your waistline. Space it out on your menu accordingly.Jump to Recipe
This version takes more time to prep, but if you are a meal-prepper, i.e. you spend an hour or two in the kitchen on Sunday getting a jump on the week’s lunches and dinners, this is a great recipe for you.
If you aren’t a meal-prepper, like me, you can still make this dish on weeknights if you don’t mind a couple extra dishes. I cook the rice, chicken and bacon simultaneously while I chop the onion and shred the carrots. It cuts down on both prep and cooking time. I don’t mind the extra skillet, or the extra bowl to set aside the chicken.
In this particular case, I cooked the chicken and bacon in advance. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, as that’s what I had on hand. I typically use chicken breasts, but if it’s not in your fridge, whatcha gonna do?
Also, I ended up needing another whole onion. Just a little note that one was SO not enough for the necessary 2 cups.
Now here’s a fun little gadget. I use it for chopping onion all the time, and most particularly when I make Dirty Rice (recipe coming soon!). Mine is probably about 10 years old, but I recently recommended a similar version to a friend. It slices, dices, and chops. It has different sizes and a little tool to get food out of the “grid”.
I love it and use it often. Mr. Alexander prefers to chop by hand, but I’m too impatient for that. Plus, it has measurements on the side!
So, do your slicing and dicing and shredding. Draft your children to assist, it’s good for them. Cook your bacon bits, chicken cubes and rice at the same time if you can.
Then, it’s only a few minutes from popping the casserole in the oven.
Once the chicken, bacon and rice are done, saute those onions and carrots in the butter…and bacon fat. It’s only 1-2 tablespoons, but again, this is not meant to be healthy.
Of course, you can absolutely healthy-it-up. Cut down on the amount of bacon and butter, or don’t use the bacon fat to saute the onions and you’ll cut out a great deal of calories and fat. Since I only make this about once a month and we generally eat healthy, I don’t mind the occasional yummy comfort food!
Mix It All Together And Bake
Once the onion and carrots are soft, and the onions are translucent, you can mix in the reserved chicken, bacon, and rice. This is also where you add in the lemon juice and red pepper flakes if desired, as well as a bit of s-n-p, to taste.
Because our family has differing tastes when it comes to heat, I leave the red pepper flakes out and just set the spice container on the table. Mr. Alexander doctors his with entirely too much red pepper (in our opinion!), and my son and I avoid the red pepper altogether.
The lemon juice does brighten up the dish, but I find more often than not, I leave it out. You can call that sheer laziness.
Once it’s mixed together, bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. It’s all cooked, so the baking time is to meld the flavors and make sure everything is warmed through. This is particularly important if you prepped in advance and the chicken, bacon, rice are cold. If they are, you may need a few more minutes.
And then? Garnish and enjoy!
Chicken & Rice Casserole – With Bacon!
- 2-3 chicken breasts cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup long grain white rice rinsed and drained
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ lb bacon chopped as for bacon bits
- 2-3 medium-sized carrots shredded
- 2 cups onion diced
- 4 tbsp butter
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- parsley, chopped for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Add rice and broth to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the broth is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet to medium. Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper over chicken and saute for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook chopped bacon on low heat to desired crispiness. Remove from heat and set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute shredded carrot, onion and butter, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in reserved chicken, bacon, and rice. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a 2.5 liter/quart baking dish.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve. Garnish each bowl with parsley