Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Chicken Mushroom Casserole For The Lazy Snob

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we—your pals from The Awl and The Hairpin—will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations). But these won’t be just any old casseroles! No, no, that won't do at all. These are fancy casseroles—or at least, not-gross ones.

Truth be told, this is a recipe born of laziness.

You ever have those days where you decide upon waking up that you are simply not going to step foot outside your home, barring a house fire or catastrophic flood? I often find that the notion of having to interact with other humans is more than I can bear, and the most soothing balm for the frayed nerves that come along with having to be a functioning member of society most days of the week is to hide behind a locked door on the weekend. As a great lover of arbitrary and vaguely punishing self-imposed rules, however, I make bargains with myself, like, "You can squirrel yourself away in the apartment, but you have to wash the floors and you aren't allowed to order food. You'll make do with what you have in the home." Because, basically, I guess I'm my own evil stepmother?

It just so happened that on one such day, my refrigerator and pantry contained the dregs of a Whole Foods grocery run and not much else. A few chicken breasts I'd frozen, a stray onion and a package of sliced mushrooms, a bag of fancifully colored teeny potatoes I'd had such ambitions to roast after work one night and serve with a nice steak and some leafy greens but instead left sitting in the crisper drawer and, like, ate brownies for dinner instead.

And in the pantry, a can of Whole Foods-brand cream of mushroom soup. Well then! Move over gloppy Campbell's condensed junk soup, there's something leaner.

All these things got cut up and thrown together in a casserole dish, along with a hefty shake of black pepper and several hundred dashes of Tabasco Sauce because Tabasco Sauce is the greatest sauce in all of sauceland. And then I remembered that there was a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry tucked away, and in my family we put Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry in everything. So sure, glug glug, a few splashes of the sherry and into the oven. And holy Toledo was this thing ever great, if a bit absurdly 1%ish. Like, a casserole you could feel proud to serve to, say, your editor with the notoriously snobby mouth? You know the one, the guy who yells things at you like, "KEEP YOUR GARBAGE BUTTER OUT OF MY MOUTH." Love that guy.

Right, so let's casserole! These are the things you need, though obviously you can adjust and add and subtract and wail about how math is hard to your heart's content, because it's a casserole and we don't need to be overly precious about a casserole recipe.

1 small package sliced mushrooms
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 bag fancifully colored teeny potatoes, halved or quartered if necessary to make everything evenly sized
1 14.5 oz. can Whole Foods organic cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. organic, free-range, Bard-educated, Mother Jones-subscribing, floaty-scarf-wearing boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry, several splashes
Black pepper and/or Tabasco to taste

And then this is what you'll do with these things: mix them together in a casserole dish and bake at 350 covered for 25 minutes, uncovered 20 minutes. You can also parboil the potatoes if they're on the larger side and you're worried they won't cook all the way through.

BOOM. Chicken mushroom casserole for the 1%. Serve tax-free.

Jolie Kerr secretly serves her editor garbage butter. Photo by Ming-yen Hsu, via Flickr.

39 Comments / Post A Comment

elephony (#103,223)

Salt to taste! SALT TO TASTE!

jolie (#16)

@elephony Salt to taste is always implied around here. It's part of our PRO-SALT AGENDA. But yes, obviously.

elephony (#103,223)

@jolie Right, don't mind me. I just recently had what should have been a delicious dish made by a friend sabotaged by a criminal lack of salt, and am therefore perhaps overly senstive.

jolie (#16)

@elephony With casseroles I generally (GENERALLY, TO TASTE, ETC) suggest not salting the dish before cooking, because so often the ingredients themselves (soups, condiments, what-have-you) have salt in them. But we're all grown-ups here with free will and the ability to make our own choices in life, so. (But God yes give me ALL THE SALT.)

luvsdieter (#212,107)

@elephony – freshly ground garlic sea salt to taste! :)

@Jolie – can I just say, from a fellow introvert [making an assumption there :)], i thought i was the only one who made those sorts of bargains with myself to make it OK to stay in the house all day! Those are also the days I get most creative around the house too. Also, next time you make this, consider adding a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. It makes everything better. One last thing – THANK YOU for the Clean Person column today. Hubby has the most disgusting, yellow pitted undershirts and we were trying to bleach them for years. We've been using the oxy clean/cold water approach, thanks to you, but will bump it up with the white vinegar this weekend.

elephony (#103,223)

@luvsdieter Not yes but heck yes!

SeanP (#4,058)

@turingcub I would think you would have to cook it quite a bit longer, which might overcook everything else (extra liquid would definitely be required). I'd pre-cook it.

Matt (#26)

'Bard-educated'? Please don't cook Donald Fagen.

HiredGoons (#603)

@Matt: or Bard.

Matt (#26)


First of all, thank you very sincerely for reminding me that I have to stop by Whole Foods to find the rest of whatever I'm going to put in the casserole I make tonight with the remainder of yesterday's rotisserie chicken. I know that I have shallots, frozen diced pumpkin, and milk. Actually, that may be enough! Maybe I can cast off the WFM shackles for one day! Thank you still for reminding me that I have to leave work at a reasonable hour and cook dinner tonight.

Anyhow (second of all, I guess): I'm not going to let you off the hook for "a package of sliced mushrooms." I mean – obviously you're rich due to your Creuset all matching, but my poor frugal heart palpitated when I read that! Benefit of the doubt: somebody brought those as part of an ill-advised crudite platter for a potluck, right? RIGHT? Unless there's a reasonable explanation I think we may both need Wellbutrin.

Limaceous (#2,392)

@Charismatic Megafauna Yes, not everyone has a matching set of Le Creuset. Some of us slice our own mushrooms and have an off-brand dutch oven with only one chip in the enamel that we picked up out of a box marked FREE on the sidewalk…

jolie (#16)

@Charismatic Megafauna I think your comment is really rude. I'm sorry, normally I don't respond to things like this but I'm a little tired of the internet making assumptions about me this week. Yes, my Le Creuset matches, but it's a collection I've put together over the past ten years, and most of those pieces come from Marshalls, TJ Maxx and the LC outlet. Because the color was discontinued and then recontinued and then discontinued and so on. And yes, sometimes I buy pre-sliced mushrooms, because I work a demanding job then I leave and go to the grocery store before coming home to cook dinner for myself and write an incredibly time- and labor-intensive weekly column, as well as one-off recipes for The Awl. I clean my own apartment, I do my own laundry, I take public transportation everywhere – for you to piss all over me for being some sort of rich bitch because I BUY SLICED MUSHROOMS is absurd. So go take a Wellbutrin and fuck off.

I genuinely apologize. This goes to show the need for a punctuation mark for sarcasm/teasing for use in comments. I re-read it just now, and definitely got the tone extremely wrong. The joke I tried and failed to make was simply: you have a well deserved reputation for attention-to-detail and high achievement, I thought the presliced mushrooms was a surprising and funny detail, especially having clicked through that Pinterest link and noted your LC color (a beautiful one that I didn't even know existed!). I am sorry, totally understand and deserve your response, and I hope you won't hold it against me for a long time.

jolie (#16)

@Charismatic Megafauna Thank you, and I apologize in return for using such strong language. You just sort of hit my emotional achilles heel is all. Let's never fight again! Here, have some casserole!

Annie K. (#3,563)

Oh please please I need some menu advice, not related to this post exactly but I really really need it. Dinner guests who can't eat onions or garlic or simple carbs. I know, they shouldn't leave home. But what can I make? I thought about salmon with tomato/cilantro/greenpepper salsa but what else to have with the meal? I'm in distress here.

@Annie K.
I know the question is not to me, but I'd do bean casserole with lots of herbs.

Annie K. (#3,563)

@Charismatic Megafauna You mean white beans, right? not green ones? what would you put in the casserole? Oh beans is such a good idea!

@Annie K.
Yes, yes, white beans, like cannellini or flageolets. And the sky is the limit! You could simply stew (Crock Pot!) the beans with stock and/or wine and/or a little lemon, a little chili either minced or powder. I like combining beans with potatoes and rosemary and parsley. You can add some feta or chevre to that. Given the Mediterranean direction, consider using a sea bass or breem (or big fat grilled sardines) instead of salmon? Just make sure you don't use chives and there is no onion or garlic in the stock you use.

Annie K. (#3,563)

@Charismatic Megafauna Or maybe I'll just steam 'em (I actually have fresh beans, frozen) and put olive oil (really good olive oil) and a little lemon on them. Thank you so much for those beans.

boysplz (#9,812)

@Annie K. Roasted cauliflower is a good substitute for carbs in a meal. Just chop it into evenly sized florets, toss with some olive oil/lemon juice/salt and pepper and roast at 450 for ~20 min until the edges of the pieces get brown.

Annie K. (#3,563)

@boysplz I'm going to try that one day but right now, I don't fancy it with salmon and salsa. What I fancy is beans. But thank you.

Hawthorne Strainer (#196,817)

And if one (or one's guests) is too snobby to contemplate the use of canned soup, making one's own cream of mushroom soup is not a difficult thing. (Saute diced mushrooms until they release their lovely liquid. Add a little onion & celery. Add stock or water. Simmer. Add cream and something to thicken it to condensed-soup consistency.)

crescentmelissa (#10,702)

I am so making this! I love not having to buy one ingredient and happening to have all requirements on hand. Makes me feel totes accomplished.

Smitros (#5,315)

Now that Drynuary's over, what wine pairing would you recommend?

Hooray! Maybe I will make one of these tomorrow to accompany the Crack Brownies currently chilling in my fridge.

Oh, who am I kidding. The crack brownies will be gone by tomorrow.

I cannot wait to use this recipe for the maiden voyage of my gorgeous purple Le Crueset dutch oven which I got for Christmas and have been too snobby to put JUST ANYTHING in.

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas !!!

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas Oh I hear you. I am looking at my Le Crueset (flame red orange like in the picture) sitting on its Special Shelf right now. Sometimes I cradle it when no one is looking.

cherrispryte (#444)

I am confused, because you seem to keep spelling Sriracha "Tabasco" when talking about the greatest of sauces?

BadUncle (#153)

@cherrispryte "Sriracha" seems to be a new name for "Chollulah."

Boo (#212,254)

Limaceous I thought i was the only one who'd found a casserole dish in the hard rubbish! Mine was 2 doors from my parents, at the bottom of a box with a whole lot of other crud. A Le Creuset from the '70s no less, in an unfashionable burnt orange colour. Nothing wrong with it. it is absolutely my favourite thing in the whole of kitchendom.

My Secret Shame recipe for this is to fry up some potatoes and onions, sometimes garlic if I can be bothered. Let steam/cook for a while with a splash of water and the lid on. Grate a huge amount of leftover cheese on top when spuds are done and mix together, if you have the strength. Perfect with salad on the side (but if like me you've eaten it all or often laughing alone with it you just have to have the gooey spuds on their own with a glass of cask wine, ha!). Enjoy.

scojo (#17,876)

I have to make a bargain with myself to go OUT because otherwise it is not happening.

@Jolie, I wouldn't dare question your guidance – chicken! casserole! mushroom! brilliance!

But at 45 minutes in, I have a Le Creuset full of Le Chicken goop. And crunchy potatoes – which I sliced! Really that low of an oven? Was I supposed to cook everything in a skillet before baking?

If anyone would like to conjecture in real time, it's just sitting there…


jolie (#16)

Oooh Emily I'm so sorry this didn't turn out for you! Two thoughts: (1) you may have been using a different kind of potato than I used, one that needed more cooking time and therefore would benefit from parboiling. You can salvage the dish by just baking it longer though. As for it being too goopy, did you uncover it? That might be the problem, but also it's a casserole, so it's sort of supposed to be goopy. So bummed you had a bad run with this. Maybe you'll make a batch of crack brownies and forgive me?

easy breezy (#212,535)

@Emily DenAdel Emery@facebook

I made this last night and had the same problem with the potatoes! But delicious otherwise. I'd definitely cook them separately ahead of time. As far as goopyness goes, I put tabasco and a HEARTY helping of S&P and the goop was so good that I was slurping it out of the bowl afterwards. Gross but trust me.

curlysue (#34,091)

This was a delight to find. First, I completely empathize with both your weekend hermit routine and the self imposed rules that accompany it. Second, last week I was home sick with a cold but managed to drag myself to the store for casserole ingredients. I had an inexplicable craving for tuna noodle casserole, which hasn't happened in about 15 years. I cooked it in my Le Cruset, which I own even though I am a not-rich MOther Jones reading non-profit drone, and it turned out great. Looking forward to trying your recipe out.

BobL (#47,604)

Did ya ever notice how recipes use measurements like cups and ounces instead of "small package" or "bag of?" one gender-neutral person's small is …..

As a bonus it avoids accusations of elitism. if you need a cup or two of sliced mushrooms it remains totally your own private business how you get them. Heck have them flown in from France and sliced by your parlor maid and no one will need to know.

(Got My 40 year old La Creuset as hand me down from a friend)

SeanP (#4,058)

This sounds absolutely delightful. One thing though: I don't know what Whole Foods canned cream of mushroom is like (don't have a Whole Foods out here in the sticks), but… honestly, most brand of C of M are kind of crappy. If you're like me and can't find one you like, there are some really good substitutions in a casserole: white sauce or sour cream or both mixed together. Sour cream, of course, only involves opening a tub, and white sauce is pretty easy: mix 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan, heat over low-ish heat until bubbly (but before it browns), whisk in a cup of milk, heat and continue whisking until smooth and thickened. Oh, and of course, salt to taste.

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