Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

When I was in 4th grade-ish (as a student, not a teacher), my uncle Frank died. It was sad. He was my favorite uncle. Here's the silver lining: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole. My aunt made a huge pan of it before we came to her house. Since she couldn't eat all of it by herself, she decided to share.

She lived 4+ hours away so we stayed with her several days. I lived on this stuff. In the midst of the smorgasboard of stuff that people brought - casseroles, ham, soups, side dishes, etc. - all I wanted was the leftover Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole that was in the fridge. I think I may have even attempted to hide it from everyone else. I begged my mom to make it when we got back home. I luuuuuuv this stuff.

Why am I posting this recipe even though it is all over the Internet and Pinterest already? (1) I decided that since I posted the Ritz Cracker Story over at Life's Crayons a couple of days ago, that I should post something that celebrates Ritz Crackers. (2) Most people do not put enough sour cream in their Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole. In order to right that wrong, to give everyone the opportunity to eat this casserole as it should be eaten, to spread joy, etc., it is my duty to tell all ya'll (yep, in the South "all ya'll" is correct) the right way to make it. Here it is:
Step One: make Perfect Chicken, but season it with 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper only. This dish is a simple one. It does not need garlic powder and onion powder clouding its simple deliciousness, and it does not need paprika to turn it red/pink.  
Step Two: Shred chicken. Here's the easy way to do it.                               Note: If you do not have a mixer with a paddle attachment, you can do what I used to do - shred it in the food processor. Sometimes that turns out to be more like ground chicken than shredded chicken, though.  
Step Three: Add an entire 8 oz container of sour cream and an entire can of cream of chicken soup to the chicken.                           Note: If you aren't sure how much 8 oz of sour cream is because you are using a bigger container, I feel that you should always add more than less. :)
I would just like to say that the ONLY reason that I did not mix the soup and sour cream in by hand is because the I had just shredded the chicken in the mixer...  
...I promise. It had nothing to do with impatience...or laziness...this time.
Step Four: Spread the mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. It doesn't even need to be a greased casserole dish!
Step Five: Take an entire sleeve of Ritz Crackers...
...and crush them over the entire casserole...  
...until you have crushed all of them in the sleeve. Take a minute to smile. That many Ritz Crackers cannot be bad.
Step Six: Sprinkle 1 t. poppy seeds evenly over the top. (There is more like 1 1/2 t. poppy seeds in this picture because I spilled them a little bit... if you want more, add more!)
Step Seven: Add the key to all things homemade - butter. I just cut the butter into pats, and then I cut each pat twice across and cross down to make these little butter dots.             Smile again because dots of butter cannot be bad. They are oh so good...Paula Deen would be proud...while possibly disappointed that I did not add more.    
Step Eight: After evenly distributing the dots over the casserole, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes...
When you take it out, it will look like this!

This is a shot of the yummy casserole after I scooped out my very large helping.

When I first put this on my plate, it was a mound of deliciousness that I fully intended to take more than one picture of before I started eating...
...but that fork just went straight to it, dove in, and shoveled it into my mouth before I could protest. :)
I feel that you should know that there were no leftovers. Here's the recipe: 

Poppy Seed Chicken CasseroleClick here for printable version
Perfect Chicken (seasoned with the salt and pepper only)
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream

1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 t. poppy seeds
2-3 T. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cream of chicken, sour cream, and chicken. Spread into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle Ritz crackers and poppy seeds over the top. Dot with butter. Bake 30 minutes.
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