Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole

I have to admit to some technical difficulties here at Sly Rooster. This isn’t the first time I’ve shared my woes. And, I suppose that this is to be expected when you are your own website’s author, photographer, researcher, code writer and administrator, although each instance is no less frustrating than the last. I am clearly “winging it” in the technical arena and sadly sometimes this shows.

My issue is that last week’s post, Lemon-Parsley Tahini Dip was published but was never sent out to all of you–my fabulous subscribers. Some loyal followers found the recipe on Facebook or Pinterest but for some reason no email was sent to your inboxes. The good news is that if you’re reading this from an email link right now, the problem is somehow magically (as I am still stumped) resolved. The bad news is that a fabulous, healthy dip perfect for holiday entertaining is hiding on my blog awaiting discovery. Not to mention, my musings on dear family friends, making an effort and Kickstarter (the connection was admittedly loose but somehow I worked all of that into my most recent post). So I ask that after you are done printing this fabulous chicken casserole recipe that will offer sustenance to your family during these weeks that you are madly dashing about, please click here to check out the Lemon-Parsley Tahini Dip.

Onto the main event. The recipe for Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole was forwarded to me by my mother and sister who made it for a book club get together at my sister’s house. Unlike my book club that focuses on hors d’oeuvres and wine, my sister and her friends provide dinner to soak up their alcoholic beverages.

Initially, I hesitated to share this dish because it has a longer ingredients list than most of my recipes and an extra step or two. But after making it twice over the course of a month I decided that you needed to be convinced that it was worth the effort. Not only does my whole family enjoy it (two of my three kids had to work through the initial “heat”–which is really just spice), but it provides fantastic leftovers for lunch. It’s the true definition of a one-pot meal by delivering a protein, starch and vegetables all in one. And if the word “casserole” evokes memories of dry, bland food, have no fear, this dish is packed with flavor. On top of all this, the Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole can be made in advance, stored in the refrigerator and baked in the oven when you are ready to serve. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole

Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole

Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 c basmati rice
  2. 1 1/2 c coconut water
  3. kosher salt
  4. 2 Tbls unsalted butter
  5. 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  6. 2 bunches scallions, roughly chopped
  7. 1 c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  8. 1 Tbls fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  9. 5 cloves garlic
  10. 1/2 habanero chile pepper seeded (or a jalapeño if you would like it less spicy)
  11. 2 Tbls curry powder
  12. 2 tsp turmeric
  13. 1 tsp ground cumin
  14. freshly ground black pepper
  15. 3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  16. 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  17. 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  18. 2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  19. 1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  20. golden raisins, for topping
  21. Mango Chutney, for serving (optional but delicious)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Combine rice, coconut water, 1/2 c water, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.
  3. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat; let stand covered, 5 minutes. Toss with the butter and coconut; set aside.
  5. Or, cook rice, coconut water, water and salt in your rice cooker. Once cooked, mix in butter and coconut and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the scallions, cilantro, thyme, garlic, habanero or jalapeño and 1/2 c water in a food processor or blender.
  7. Puree to make a smooth paste.
  8. Transfer 1 Tbls of the puree to a small bowl and add the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, 1 tsp black pepper and 1/4 c water. Stir to combine and set aside.
  9. Transfer the remaining paste to a large bowl and add the chicken and 1 tsp salt; toss to coat.
  10. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  11. Add the curry-scallion paste; cook, stirring, until the paste darkens and starts to separate, about 5 minutes.
  12. Add the chicken to the pot. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook, stirring occasionally until almost cooked through, 15 minutes.
  13. Increase the heat to medium-high. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes more.
  14. Stir in 1 1/2 c water, carrots, chickpeas and spinach. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  15. Simmer until the chicken is tender, 15 more minutes.
  16. Transfer the chicken mixture to a 9" x 13" baking dish and top with the rice mixture.*
  17. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes.
  18. Top with golden raisins and serve with mango chutney on the side, if desired.
Notes
  1. *The casserole can be made up to this point and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bring room temperature before baking in the oven.
Adapted from Food Network Kitchen
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