A chicken casserole is essentially a casserole made with chicken as the main ingredient. It is one of the most popular casseroles and prepared almost everywhere in the world. Cooked in the traditional casserole dish, chicken casseroles have a slightly crusty top with a soft and easy-to-slice center. There are various types of casserole including, but not limited to, hotpot, shepherd's pie, lasagna and ragout. In Britain, a casserole is often referred to as a 'bake'.
Chicken casseroles have been around for many years. In fact, it is believed to be one of the first popular casseroles. The French are often credited as being the inventors of the casserole, both the dish as well as the baking tray.
Ingredients and Preparation
Chicken breasts, onions, cheese, cream, egg yolk, water, wine and seasonings are the basic ingredients required for the preparation of chicken casserole. There are many variations of the dish and these mostly depend on the ingredients used. It is, therefore, safe to say that the dish can be made with a large number of additional ingredients (the basics continue to remain the same though). Mushrooms are a popular addition and at times, people use beer, brandy or some other preferred alcohol instead of wine.
Casseroles are always baked and while the preparation is not difficult or time consuming, cooking the perfect chicken casserole could take some practice. It is important to ensure that the cooking time is just right. If the cook time is too much, the casserole will be hard and chewy and if too less, the insides can lose their consistency. Casseroles can be cooked covered or uncovered depending on whether or not a moist and soft top is preferred.
Chicken casserole is a very versatile dish and can be made with almost everything. There are, however, some ingredients that go really well with chicken and these have, over the years, given rise to some exceptionally popular recipes.
Spinach and Chicken Bake - A very easy and basic recipe, it combines chicken with spinach and other essential ingredients. Creole or Cajun seasonings are usually added to give the chicken a unique and pleasant taste.
Chicken and Noodle Bake - Noodles of choice are seasoned and mixed with chicken to make this easy, yet very delicious casserole.
Mexican Chicken Bake - This special casserole is made with chicken breasts, taco sauce, cheese, chips, peppers, tomatoes and cream of mushroom soup.
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole - Long grain rice is mixed with chicken, vegetables, mushrooms and seasonings to make this tasty casserole.
Chicken Florentine Bake - A versatile recipe, the casserole is made with chicken and spinach that have been cooked in a rich and creamy sauce beforehand. Basil is an important ingredient and so are button mushrooms.
Chicken casserole can be served as a main course dish or a side dish. Traditionally, the casserole is served in the very vessel that it is cooked in, usually straight out of the oven. Although toppings are generally not used, shredded cheese makes a good topping as well as garnish. Toasted bread makes a good accompaniment and is often served alongside the casserole. In France, chicken casseroles are considered one of the best wine accompaniments.
Chicken casserole is often classified as a 'comfort food' i.e., a food that is easy to cook and digest, yet rich in calories and nutrients.