Wednesday, August 15, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 8: Company Chicken Casserole.


Recipe Count: 7 of 156 Complete.




I figured Missy Kellam's "Company Chicken Casserole" was going to be a win. These soupy rice casseroles are often nice in a soupy comforting way. Boy was I wrong. This was a horror show.

As I mentioned in "Rice Meatballs" I am making it a point to point out the church cookbook tropes that I've come across in my extensive study of the form. The word "Company" in a recipe almost always just means -- "has wine in it." The departure from this convention in "Company Chicken Casserole" should have raised my eyebrow...

As I halved the recipe I got to use one of my favorite cooking vessels -- A tiny cornflower Corningware casserole.



Church cookbooks are heavy on the use of "American bechamel" (Campbell's "cream of ..." soups). The soupy casserole family of recipes is a favorite of mine  I'm a fan of "Hot Damn" and I think tater-tot hotdish is a true blue American classic.




I used celery and an eggplant from the garden. Including my lovingly grown veg in a pukey beige mess was sad.

The "let stand over night in refrigerator" instruction was ponderous to me. In a dish already a festival of brown letting the eggplant and mushroom oxidize overnight is not an appealing thought.



Below we have the dish rested overnight and baked as per the instructions.



The stuffing-like appearance of the casserole was encouraging.

Digging out a scoop is where things went south...



Notes on taste:

I did not begin my "Favorite Recipes" journey in order to participate in the typical (and boring) "let's prepare obviously disgusting old recipes and make fun of them drolly" business. I want to experience the family recipes of my community's past. Take food long forgotten and through my hands make it new again.

I feel no joy in my disappointment with "Company Chicken Casserole." I don't understand this recipe at all. I don't get the overnight soak. Is that to pre-soak the rice? What does that bring to the party?

What is with all the liquid? The proportions are way off. With the stock, soup, and exuded mushroom/eggplant water you are left with an overly wet dish. Not wet in a creamy comforting way. Wet in a sad separated way.

The texture. This is what really turned my stomach. The oddest assortment of textures I've had in my mouth at once. Even after the 1.5 hour cook time the celery (or onion) remained crisp. So you have crisp celery, disgusting slimy eggplant cubes, spongy mushroom, toothsome chicken, and all swimming on top of damp overcooked maggot-esque rice.

I spit out the one mouthful I managed.

This is a bad recipe. No way around it. I was thinking about how one might fix it. Cheese and breadcrumb and a hotter oven? Might turn the tide...

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