Chicken–Rice Noodle Casserole
Author and Educator
James Beard first had this dish at a Danish restaurant in Seattle in the 1930s, where he loved the crust of buttery, crunchy sliced almonds. The thickened butter and cream-based sauce in this recipe is very similar to the classic American dish chicken tetrazzini. Needless to say, Beard couldn’t resist adding cognac and tarragon, two of his favorite ingredients.
- 8 ounces rice noodles
- 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Cognac
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, less if you use canned chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
- 3 cups chicken, poached, removed from the bone, and cut into strips
- 3/4 cup almonds, sliced and toasted
- Butter for topping
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cover the noodles with cold water, and let them soak for 15-20 minutes until soft. If you use ordinary wheat noodles, cook them in boiling water, drain, and set them aside.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Mix the flour into the melted butter and cook it slowly, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the roux is well blended. Stir in the chicken broth and cook until the sauce is smooth, thick, and at the boiling point. Add the cream, Cognac, salt, pepper, tarragon, and Tabasco sauce, and cook briefly to heat through and blend the flavors. An additional tablespoon of butter swirled in at this point will give an even richer sauce. Add the chicken to the pan, taste, and correct the seasoning.
Arrange the noodles in a buttered baking dish. Spoon the chicken mixture evenly over them, and cover it with a good layer of toasted almonds. Dot with additional butter. Bake for 20 minutes, when the top should be brown and crunchy, an absolutely delicious finish.