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Friday, May 14, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Chicken

You know it's a Southern recipe when it includes...

...condensed soup

...an abundance of melted butter

...and a Ritz cracker crumb topping.

*WARNING* This is not a recipe for anyone on a diet. This is full fat, artery clogging goodness. Which is probably why I suggest eating this with a fresh salad, green beans or some summer squash.  And a glass of wine to cut the fat.  Naturally.  I would love to find a lower fat version of this, but man, is this version rich!

This was my contribution to the March of the Church ladies for a friends who recently had a new baby. This recipe is likely present in some form or fashion in every Junior League and church cookbook across the South.

I made two versions, one with reconstituted dried mushrooms and another without.

Mushroom-free version...

Mushroom-y version (my preference).

Lemon Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

3-4 lbs of chicken (I like a mix of the white and dark)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
3 cup cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of dried wild mushrooms, rinsed and reconstituted according to package directions
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (I did half this and half olive oil)
3 tsp poppy seeds

Roast the chicken pieces in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes or until cooked well and juices run clear. When cool cut into bite size pieces. Cook rice in salted water to taste according to package directions to get 3 cups. Mix chicken, rice, sour cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds, mushrooms and soup and place in baking dish. Top with crushed ritz crackers. Pour melted butter on top. Sprinkle on remaining poppy seeds. Bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes. 

Serve hot and with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 

Recipe Notes
-The acid of the lemon juice really helps cut the richness of the casserole. You could probably do without, but I like the brightness it adds.
-To lighten this, you could use lower fat/sodium soups and light sour cream. Probably not as rich but easier in the calorie department.
-I get my dried mushrooms in a huge container at Costco. Surprise, surprise.
-Crushing Ritz crackers is a great job for a toddler. Or a frustrated adult.

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