Oh, I do so love a good casserole, especially when they help me to make good use of my leftovers. I hate waste, so being able to use up all my leftovers is a good thing! Win/win!!
This recipe I am showcasing here today is one I found in a cookbook of mine by Laura Washburn, called Home-Cooked Comforts, oven bakes, casseroles and other one pot dishes. My favourite type of food.
I actually have a few of Laura's cookbooks and I always love her recipes. None of them are fiddly and most use every day ingredients that I always have in the house. I've never found one to be a dud yet either. They always turn out perfectly.
This casserole was simply delicious. We love tarragon in this house . . . and chicken tarragon is one of our favourite dishes . . . so it wasn't no surprise that we loved this dish.
Chicken and tarragon are such beautiful partners. The perfect combination . . . and when you combine that marriage with lovely ingredients such as orzo and cooked carrots, along with a delicious homemade bechamel, flavored subtly with chicken stock and grainy mustard . . . well, that makes for one very delicious casserole indeed!
Todd thought the orzo was rice, so he was happy. (Ignorance is bliss.) We both love carrots too. It was a great all rounder and to be honest, I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us, using just one cooked chicken breast and there were leftovers for Todd to have for his lunch tomorrow.
Laura added some olive oil to the chicken and orzo in the dish before adding the sauce. I skipped that step and it made no perceivable difference, so I managed to make it a bit lower in calories as well. She also says that the quantities of vegetables and chicken are very fluid, so fill your boots and add as much or as little as you want.
I found with the one breast of chicken it was the perfect amount and I used 1 1/2 carrots. She also says you can use a combination of vegetables if you wish . . . peas, corn, beans. She didn't say to cook the Orzo or not so I was a bit confused, and so I half cooked it, just to be sure and it turned out perfectly.
I hope you'll make this tasty Winter Warming dish. It's a real winner!
*Chicken Tarragon Bake*
Adapted from a recipe by Laura Washburn in her book, Home Cooked Comforts.
350g cooked chicken, shredded
(2 large cooked chicken breasts)
2 carrots, quartered lengthwise, chopped and cooked until
200g Orzo (Cooked for 2/3 of the cooking time, drained, rinsed in cold water and drained again)
3 TBS cracker crumbs
(I use round buttery ones)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
50g of unsalted butter (3 1/2 TBS)
35g plain flour (5 TBS)
600ml of hot milk (2 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
250ml hot chicken stock (1 cup)
2 tsp whole grain mustard
2 heaped TBS finely chopped fresh tarragon (1 heaped TBS freeze dried)
Butter an 9 inch casserole dish. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.
Melt the butter for the sauce in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk gently until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Whisk in the salt, stock, mustard and tarragon. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Stir in the chicken, carrots and orzo, mixing together well. Spoon this mixture into the prepared baking dish. Smooth over the top and sprinkle with the cracker crumbs. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further20 to 30 minutes until browned. Serve immediately.
A green salad goes very well with this.
Note: It is not necessary to limit your vegetables to carrots. Feel free to use a mixture if you wish. Green beans, peas, corn . . . they all go well.
Up next . . . some delicious homemade Digestive Biscuits. . . scrummy!