Baked Chicken With Bacon Bottom and Wild Rice

Serves 10 to 12.

Note: This comfort-food casserole builds on the down-home flavor of canned cream soup. In testing, we found that the amount of rendered fat/melted butter in this dish caused splatters and smoke in the oven, and it was helpful to place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and to drain off some of that fat before the casserole was done. In fact, we recommend lining the bottom with cooked bacon, rather than raw. You will need a deep 9- by 13-inch baking dish. The rice could be cooked and refrigerated a day or two in advance. Chicken tenders are white meat that’s part of the breast meat but not really connected to it. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Adapted from “Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering,” by Joanna Gaines.

• 3 (6.2-oz.) boxes Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice Fast Cook Recipe

• 12 oz. thick-cut peppered bacon slices (see Note)

• 1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced

• 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) salted butter, divided

• 1 (10.5-oz.) can condensed cream of onion or cream of mushroom soup

• 1 c. sour cream

• 1 c. chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)

• 1 tsp. garlic powder (or granulated garlic)

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 1/2 lb. chicken tenders (see Note)

• 1/4 c. chopped chives or parsley, for garnish

Directions

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lay bacon slices side by side on the bottom of your baking dish so it is completely covered, using any leftover slices to line along the sides. Scatter the onion slices over the bottom layer of bacon. Cut 4 tablespoons butter into cubes, then distribute them evenly over the onion.

Stir together the cooked wild rice blend, soup, sour cream, broth and garlic powder in a mixing bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Spoon this mixture into the baking dish, spreading it evenly.

Nestle the chicken tenders into the surface of the rice layer; the fit will be tight side by side, and they should be lightly pressed in. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then use it to brush the tops of the chicken. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil; bake on the middle rack for 55 minutes. At this point, the chicken will not be cooked through. Uncover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is done (it will be pale, so check by inserting a knife into the center of a tender). Scatter the chives or parsley on top just before serving.

Nutrition information per serving of 12:

Calories 620

Carbohydrates 40 g

Protein 30 g

Fat 37 g

Saturated fat 16 g

Cholesterol 115 mg

Sodium 510 mg

Total sugars 2 g

Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: 2½ starch, 3 lean protein, 6 fat.