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Chicken works for holiday dinner

November 18, 2009

This chicken dish is another one of my mother's favorite recipes to serve when company visited. It's easy to prepare and looks elegant. The thyme provides an unexpected savory flavor, and the water chestnuts add a nice crunch.

It's great served with white rice; the rice provides a great way to soak up the sauce and enjoy every drop. This is a wonderful alternative to turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas or another holiday dinner.

- Joyce Summers

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
10 3/4-ounce can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup dry white wine
5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3-ounce can sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat and saute chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove from skillet, place in large glass or ceramic baking dish.

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Without cleaning skillet, and without heating, add the cream of chicken soup and whisk white wine into the soup until soup is smooth. Add water chestnuts, mushrooms, green pepper and thyme. Stir until blended.

Pour soup mixture over chicken. Cover, bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 30 minutes more.

Tip for fail-proof, flavorful white rice: Substitute chicken broth for cooking water. The rice will cook up light and fluffy every time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan, put 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. In saucepan on stovetop, bring 3 cups chicken broth to a boil. When it boils, pour over rice in pan and cover with foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until broth is absorbed.

Check the rice carefully. Steam accumulates under the foil, so make sure to use a pot holder or oven mitt and open a corner of the foil away from you to avoid a steam burn.

If not cooked thoroughly, leave in oven 5 additional minutes. Don't overcook. The rice will absorb a small amount of broth after removing from the oven and before serving.

Makes about 3 cups cooked rice.

- Submitted by Joyce Summers, personal chef and owner of Dinner's On! Personal Chef Service, Frederick, Md.

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