I've had this recipe in the hopper for a long time. Last night was the night we finally tried it out. It took longer than the recipe called for but it was SO worth it! This is the ultimate comfort food. I originally found this on recipezaar, which is now food.com.
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrots, chopped (*1 used 2 carrots)
4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (* or red pepper flakes)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (*I used one cup long-grain brown rice and 1/2 cup wild rice, since it was what I had on hand)
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (* I used 3 cups cooked chicken, thawed from the freezer)
2 2/3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup green beans
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
2/3 cup cheddar cheese or 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook onions, celery and carrots until soft but not brown. Add garlic, seasoned salt, pepper and chile powders and cook until very fragrant. Add flour and mix well. Cook until starting to color.
Slowly whisk milk and stock into vegetable flour mixture, stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium high and continue to whisk as mixture comes to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add rice to sauce and lower heat to medium low. Cook until the rice absorbs most of the liquid and is tender, stirring occasionally. Will take about 20 - 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add chicken to the rice and sauce mixture. Cut green beans into 1 inch lengths and stir into the mixture as well. Cook approximately 4 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Stir in 2 2/3 cups cheddar cheese.
Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch casserole, or two 8x8 inch casseroles.
Combine bread crumbs, cheese and garlic powder and sprinkle evenly over top of the casserole. Place in hot oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbling.
You really should cool for 10 minutes before cutting. You could garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Or not :).