I keep a list of recipes I refer to as my graduate student dishes because they’re quick, easy, often use shortcuts and are generally inexpensive to make. This particular recipe I collected shortly after grad school when I was in my first professional job as a communications media specialist. I worked for a small hospital in Illinois doing videography and photography of the sort best not discussed in a food column.
When I mentioned to one of my co-workers — think Flo, the waitress from the TV show “Alice,” but imagine a medical transcriptionist — that I wanted to cook more meals at home but didn’t know where to begin, she recommended that I start with this recipe, which she recited to me by memory.
It was just right for a novice, sort of like cooking with training wheels.
It’s also a good dish for anyone who needs to whip up something fast, simple and, for the most part, budget-friendly. And it’s an almost-one-dish recipe. In fact, if you want, you can mix the cream of chicken soup and water in the baking dish before you add the rice and eliminate the mixing bowl — you have my permission.
To save time, you can buy the chicken precut, or you can get a whole fryer and chop it up yourself, which you’ll find is cheaper. You can use the chicken wings — or not — but leave the back out of the dish and save it to make chicken stock. That’s a doctoral candidate-level recipe.
QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN AND RICE CASSEROLE
Makes: 4 servings
1 cup rice
1 whole chicken, cut up
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a large baking dish and cover the bottom with the rice.
- Remove the skin from the chicken; arrange chicken over the rice.
- Pour the cream of chicken soup into a bowl.
- Fill the empty soup can with water and add to the cream of chicken soup. Mix well to remove lumps, then pour over the chicken. (Be sure the liquid gets down to the rice, or it won’t cook.)
- Sprinkle onion soup mix over the chicken.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until chicken and rice are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. (If liquid is absorbed but rice is still too crunchy, add some water or chicken stock and bake, covered, a while longer.)
As a variation, add some sunflower seeds or cashews (or both) to the rice before putting the chicken in the dish. Sliced mushrooms are a nice addition too.
(Recipe from Scott Joseph.)
To find recipes from local restaurants, check out the Local Flavor with Scott Joseph section on YourCommunityPaper.com and follow ScottJosephOrlando.com to read reviews and stay up to date on Orlando restaurant news.
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