My wife and I were sitting around Saturday morning with her looking through the January 2009 Martha Stewart Living. She pointed out two recipes that looked good for me to try. Hint, hint… The one that really caught my eye was a Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Casserole (pg. 45) that just looked like some amazing comfort food on a Michigan day in the mid-teens outside.

It was a very nice surprise. Just a couple notes really improve the original recipe. One add about a 1/4 teaspoon of Rosemary to help enhance the flavor. Be careful not to over salt too. This dish can get fairly salty with the chicken stock. Speaking of stock, make sure you use a good quality chicken stock. I use Better than Bouillon stock that can be found at most markets these days. And lastly, use a good quality whole grain bread. I bought some Sprouted Multi-Grain bread at Trader Joe’s.

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Casserole
Serves 4-6

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 if making it for 6 people)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, coarsely chopped and rinsed well
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2-inch dice
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved if large
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup whole milk
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon Rosemary
8 slices dense multigrain bread, crusts removed and cut once into triangles
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook until golden brown on 1 side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, reduce heat to medium and cook until cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate, and return pan, with drippings, to medium heat.

2. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in pan. Add leek, celery, mushrooms and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Reduce heat if vegetables brown to quickly.) Stir in flour, and ccook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add Sherry, stock, milk, rosemary, and bay leaf, and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper. Discard bay leaf.

3. Arrange bread on bottom of a 2-quart oval baking dish, overlapping slices slightly. Spoon half of the vegetables an sauce over bread. Slice chicken crosswise, 1/2-inch thick, and arrange on bread. Top with any accumulated juices from chicken. Spread remaining vegetables and sauce over chicken, sprinkle with parsley and Parmessan Reggiano, and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!