how you save time when cooking - keep the suggestions coming!!
Now onto the food. I'm a big fan of casseroles because there's something magical and comforting about combining a bunch of ingredients in a pan, letting them blend together in the oven for a while, and pulling out a wonderful meal. I also love that I can clean up all of my prep dishes or get work done while it's cooking. I found this recipe in February's cookbook of the month, The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook, and it stood out because I loved the idea of using millet as a casserole topping. The bottom of this casserole was very tasty, a spicy combination of chicken and veggies in a thickened sauce. The crust was definitely the element that took this to a new level, though. The millet layer was thick, slightly crispy, and just cheesy enough to give it an extra boost of flavor and hold it together.
I have very mixed feelings about this cookbook. I started out the month making a gluten-free pizza crust that was only ok, but some of the recipes were very good (including the tuna and red rice salad, crock pot millet and amaranth porridge, coconut chicken with quinoa, and this recipe). I had a lot of fun trying a new type of rice and finding a way to enjoy amaranth. Plus, I really appreciate alternate crock pot instructions for many of the recipes. Overall it's a very solid cookbook, but minor details bother me (typos in almost every recipe, ingredients that never show up in the directions, serving sizes that are way off). It doesn't compare to my favorite whole grains cookbook, Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way, but I'm glad that I've added it to my collection.
Chicken chile casserole with millet crust (adapted from The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook)
1 cup millet
5 cups water, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sorghum flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour, or wheat flour)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Place millet in a medium saucepan and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it starts popping (about 5 min). Remove pan from heat, add 3 cups water and salt, and return the pan to the stove. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed (about 20 min). Then stir in cheese and set aside.
While millet is cooking, combine flour and cayenne pepper in a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, and stir well. Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat in a large saute pan and add the chicken pieces, shaking off the excess flour (but don't discard the flour yet). Lightly brown the chicken on all sides, and then set it aside on a plate. Add the remaining Tbsp oil to the saute pan, and then add onion, celery, and bell peppers and cook until they're tender. Stir in chipotle pepper, garlic, lemon zest, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook for an additional minute. Add 2 Tbsp of the excess flour, and stir well for 2 min. Pour in the remaining 2 cups of water, and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, stirring frequently (about 5 min). Add chicken back to the pan, stir well, and then pour the mixture into a lightly oiled 9 x 13" baking pan. Spread the millet mixture on top and bake at 375 for 25-30 min, until top is lightly browned. Serves 6.