Casseroles built on cream of mushroom soup fed many families in the 1960s, when canned goods seemed ever so much more modern than cooking from scratch. The 1961 top seller, the Better Homes & Gardens Casserole Cook Book, put a lid on every imaginable medley of vegetables and meat, and called it dinner.
I adapted this 1967 recipe from the international cookbook from William H. Ray, the elementary school I attended in Chicago. What mod, striped pants I wore back in the day! I’m not sure what country this recipe represents, nor Don’s identity (certainly not Draper!)), but I chose it because it sounded fairly healthy for its time. It makes a sherry-infused bowl of rice, nuts, chicken and vegetables with minimal clean-up — good for any era.
Don’s Chicken Pilaf (1967)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1 cup raw rice
1 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (3-4 pound) chicken, cut up
2 1/4 cups boiling chicken stock (or boiling water mixed with 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In an oven-proof saute pan with a lid, melt the butter. Add the celery, onion, mushrooms, and parsley and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.
- Add the rice and stir to coat with butter on all sides. Continue cooking until the rice browns, about 5 minutes.
- Add the water and sherry, then the chicken pieces, pushing them down so they are covered with liquid.
- Add the almonds, cover the pot and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle each serving with additional parsley.