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Wild Rice Chicken Casserole

This is my kind of recipe; wild rice casserole topped with stuffing! What is not to love about that? I may be preempting Thanksgiving a little bit with this poultry and stuffing bonanza, but what can I say? Stuffing is the carb my soul craves this time of the year.
Wild rice is such a fun change of pace from my normal favorite, sweet, floral, comforting Jasmine rice. Wild rice is nutty, dark, and beautifully long-grained. Add to that chicken, butter and stuffing and you have made a comfort food casserole King!

The smell of this baking in the oven will put you in the holiday mood, even if you make this nowhere near Thanksgiving! Prepare a big pan this weekend, freeze the remainder, and rest easy knowing you have some delicious leftovers waiting for you on those cold, dark, depressing weeknights endemic to autumn and winter. I promise with one bite of this meal those nights will transform into a cozy, “intsagrammable” memory. Enjoy!

1 sweet onion, diced
5 carrots, diced
5 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup wild rice
3 1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock, divided
1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces (1/4 inch)
12 ounces breakfast sausage, browned and crumbled
10 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 sage leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoon flour
2 cups whole milk
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups broccoli
3 to 4 cups of bread stuffing (I like Pepperidge farm)
Parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. 
Place the onion, carrots, celery, wild rice, thyme sprigs, sage leaves and 3 cups chicken broth into the dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Near the end of the rice’s cooking time, melt four tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and cook for a minute to eliminate any raw flour taste. While whisking, add the milk slowly and cook until it became a rich, creamy sauce. 
Melt the remaining butter in the microwave and toss with the stuffing bread and sausage crumbles. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth and mix well.

When the rice is done, remove the foil and fish out the sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Mix in the raw chicken thighs, broccoli and creamy sauce and top with the stuffing mix. Increase the oven to 450 degrees F and bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the bread topping is golden brown. Allow the casserole to cool 10 minutes before serving and garnish with some fresh parsley.


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