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March 16, 2015

{Make Ahead Monday} Chicken and Rice Casserole with Bacon



This is the epitome of a make ahead meal. Not only does half of the main ingredients come from the freezer, you can make it the day before and pop it in the oven when you're ready!

Every time I make a dish with rice, I always have some leftover, and I USED to just trash it if I didn't have enough of whatever I served along side the rice left for another meal. I mean, plain rice is pretty boring, am I right? However, a few months ago I made a recipe for fried rice (it was just OK, I'm on the hunt for a great one!), and it utilized leftover rice. The author of the post mentioned she often freezes leftover rice, which is just brilliant. I'd never thought of that, but now when I make rice I make more than I know we'll need specifically so I have some to freeze.

This recipe is a great way to use frozen rice. It also uses prepared shredded chicken, which you may or may not already have in your freezer. I always do! And, if you plan your menu accordingly, this could even use leftover bacon (well, if that's even a thing? Is it possible to save bacon for later? Well, yes, it is. It's H-A-R-D, but it's possible). If you're making something with bacon that week, just cook up a few extra slices!

I've been searching for a chicken and rice casserole that the whole family would like for over a year now, and this is finally it. The leftovers are fantastic for lunch too!

Chicken and Rice Casserole with Bacon
Ingredients:
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
hot sauce, to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 cups cooked white rice


Directions:Preheat oven to 350*

Put butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour once melted, whisking until smooth and bubbly. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, salt and pepper. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken.

Reduce heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Add hot sauce to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer while assembling the rest of the casserole.

In a large bowl, stir cooked rice and chicken. Add cheese sauce, mixing until combined. Stir in bacon pieces.

Pour rice mixture in a casserole dish, and top with extra 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and browning a bit, and the rice mixture is bubbling. About 30 minutes.


Source: Heavily adapted from Picky Palete

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