Chef Jeff: One Byte At A Time — Smoked Chicken Casserole

One thing was for sure when I was growing up: We could always count on having a noodle hotdish at least once a week, whether it was at home or for school hot lunch. And a lot of people I know share the same experience.

The reasoning was twofold: It was inexpensive and you were able to put one together in a hurry, very important for people on a tight budget and time schedule.

More often than not, hamburger or ground beef was the star, along with a can of either Campbell’s tomato or vegetable soup and the old reliable elbow macaroni.

That’s not to say we didn’t have other hotdishes that featured another main ingredient such as tuna (often on Fridays) or chicken.

These days, leftover chicken is one of my favorites for a casserole,  whether it’s from one of the 5- to 6-pounders we purchase by the case of 12 from the Hutterites or a store-bought rotisserie one. It’s hard for me to resist  a warm and bubbly chicken hotdish, which can  boast a range of seasonal flavors, popular spices and some surprising twists.

Yesterday, I cooked a smoked Hutterite chicken in the oven. The tasty bird has way more meat than we can polish off at one meal. In fact, it probably could feed six to eight people as a main course.

My plan for leftovers is — you guessed it —  a hotdish, to be combined with a can of cream of mushroom soup, some onion, celery and a little Miracle Whip.

While this hotdish might get a bad rap in some circles of the culinary community, it won’t at our house.

Smoked Chicken Casserole
2 cups smoked chicken, shredded
6 ounces egg noodles
½ cup onion, diced finely
½ cup celery, diced finely
1 cups frozen peas
1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
Salt and lemon pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in large bowl. Add cooked noodles and mix. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or until done.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

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