Richmond Times-Dispatch

Chicken and Rice Bake

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Perfect for cold nights, this casserole uses chopped chicken, cooked rice, frozen vegetables and a simple cheese sauce. Buttery crackers add crunch on top.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 tablespoon­s butter

¼ cup flour

3 cups wholemilk or similar ( I used 2 cups half-and-half and 1 cup 2% milk)

½ teaspoon ground thyme

Dash of garlic powder

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

(optional)

1½ cups shredded mild cheddar

cheese (colby jack works, too) Salt and pepper, to taste

1 12- ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables ( I used the pea- carrotcorn mixture, but use whatever your family likes)

Approximat­ely 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken ( you could also use turkey)

2 cups cooked white rice Approximat­ely 1 sleeve Ritz crack

ers, crushed

2 tablespoon­s butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until a thick paste forms, then addmilk and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and starting to thicken, 3 to 4minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add thyme, garlic powder and poultry seasoning, if using.

Add cheese and stir until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Add frozen vegetables and chicken and stir. If sauce seems very thick, add an additional ⅓ cup milk.

Place cooked rice in the bottom of baking dish. Spread chicken mixture over the rice.

Combine crushed crackers and butter and sprinkle crumbs over the top of the chicken mixture. Bake until sides are bubbly, about 30minutes.

— Adapted from www.lovelylitt­lekitchen.com

 ?? PHOTOS BY HOLLY PRESTIDGE/ TIMES-DISPATCH ??
PHOTOS BY HOLLY PRESTIDGE/ TIMES-DISPATCH

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