Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spicy, Creamy, Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Well the name speaks for itself. We had returned from vacation to find we had suffered a loss of a beloved aunt and a friend's mother, so we drove to Dallas to pay our respects and returned with a terrible virus that wiped us out for a week. No fun.

When sick I always make a big batch of chicken broth in the pressure cooker with loads of fresh turmeric and ginger, but after living off that for days, we were craving comfort food. The best thing EVER is Instacart delivery from Whole Foods! I typically love shopping groceries, but since I was also working, simply had no energy to go shopping and then cook. Delivery saved the day!! This recipe freezes really well and while I served it with gluten free rotini ( a guilty treat after days of nothing but green tea and broth), the hubby liked it poured over a flaky biscuit.

3 split skinless chicken breasts, bone in.
1 tbs Lemon Pepper blend (We love Trader Joe's)
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 large carrot roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
several sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
1 jalapeno
1 carton condensed cream of chicken soup (Pacific organic brand)
1 tbs onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs paprika
3 cups spring water
a "glug" of white wine
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup jalapeno jack cheese

In a heavy dutch oven, brown chicken in a little oil (we use avocado these days) after you've generously sprinkled the chicken with lemon pepper blend. Once the skin has a little golden color to it, set aside on a plate and add chopped onion, celery, carrot, a whole jalapeno split in half lengthwise (I'm trying to open up my sinuses people), and saute over medium heat until softened. About 5 minutes. Add the slightly smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant- about a minute. Do not over cook the garlic or it will burn and taste bitter. Add that glug of white wine (about 1/4 cup) and reduce another 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol.

Re-introduce the chicken, add two bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, the cream of chicken, spices and spring water. It will look like this:

Before you add the cream of chicken and water...

Cover and place in a 215 degree oven for four hours or until the chicken is tender. Remove chicken and discard the bone. Remove thyme stems and bay leaf. Add cream cheese and with an immersion blender or in a blender, whip it all up until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add the shredde jalapeno jack cheese and melt into the sauce. Pour over the chicken and pasta or biscuit or some roasted veggies such as zucchini, turnips and squash or even sauteed greens. We topped with crispy bacon, chives and parsley.

Spicy, creamy and comforting. Perfect after days of stress and sickness or just any time you want a little comfort, really.

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