Start to Finish: 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
With a chicken curry casserole, as opposed to a stir-fry, the ingredients have plenty of time to mingle their flavors together and you don't have to cook a separate pot of rice. Adapted from a recipe at Eating Well, this recipe cooks the rice and the chicken in the same baking dish, making it, in effect, a curried chicken-and-rice pilaf casserole.
- 2 large chicken breasts, boned or boneless
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped asparagus or broccoli
1 cup chopped red pepper, about 1 large pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 lime wedges
Bring a pot of water to a full, rolling boil.
Place the chicken in the pot and turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave it on the burner.
Let the chicken cook for 25 to 30 minutes until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part. This temperature helps to kill any harmful bacteria according to the Foodsafety.gov website.
Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces after it has cooled enough to work with. Use either two forks or your fingers for shredding.
Set the chicken aside in a large bowl.
Soaking rice before cooking helps softens the rice, allowing it to absorb more flavorful liquid during cooking and speeds up the cooking time, according to editors at the Fine Cooking website. Let the rice soak in cold water for 30 minutes before making the casserole.
Drain the soaked rice in a colander until all the excess water has run off. Set it aside.
Heat a large oven-proof pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Cook the onions for 9 to 10 minutes until they are golden and translucent. A few browned edges on the onions adds a bit of extra flavor to the dish.
Add the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are almost tender. Set the vegetables aside in the bowl with the chicken.
Turn the heat to medium low, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne. Stir the mixture constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the broth, vegetables, salt and chicken to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Taste the casserole, and add more salt in small amounts until the dish taste good to you.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid or foil and bake it in a 400 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. You'll know it's done when the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Stir in the cilantro and serve the casserole with lime wedges.
Don't be tempted to skip the lime wedges. According to the Food and Wine website, a dash of acidity brightens the flavor of a dish and makes it come to life.
Substitutes and Variations
- Omit the red peppers and broccoli and stir in 2 cups of thawed frozen peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Substitute your favorite vegetables, such as carrots or sweet potatoes for the broccoli and bell pepper.
- Make a milk and flour cream sauce, or bechamel, with 2 cups of milk and 1/4 cup of flour to use in place of the chicken broth for a more creamy casserole.
Serve a plain green salad dressed only with oil and vinegar or a simple dish of steamed green beans to balance the complex and multiple flavors of the curry casserole.