Like every church, I am sure, St. Paul’s Episcopal has a list of people in need of casseroles. It’s not called that. It’s the list of people who’ve just had babies, major surgery or are facing some other challenge requiring outside intervention at suppertime. For the Women of St. Paul’s, it’s like hitting a gong next to our heads when these calls for assistance go out. We will practically break down your door to bring you a casserole. All we need to hear is that you’ve suffered a sprained thumb and we are on it.
St. Paul’s uses an internet meal planner called Meal Baby to coordinate our offerings to those in need. In the olden days, it was entirely possible for someone who’d just had knee replacement surgery to receive five or six identical casseroles. I mean, really, you can only be so grateful for five pans of Chicken Divan. But with Meal Baby, you log on to find the list of parishioners needing meals and sign up for a date, listing what you will bring. And the genius of this is the calendar also lists everyone else and what they’re bringing.
This, of course, has its downside. You are thinking chili and cornbread, and then you click on the date just before you and find out the offering is Steak Diane and Scalloped Potatoes. Ouch.
For my money, casseroles are always the way to go. Why? You know this one. They reheat beautifully! So, today, I dropped off a pan of Poppy Seed Chicken to a parishioner in need. It’s a Southern thing. Someone way back when decided to think up an actual use for poppy seeds. Now, you can barely find your table at the tea room without getting Poppy Seed Chicken plopped at your place. It usually comes with frozen congealed salad with a dollop of mayonnaise on top but I’m not good at congealed salads.
I’ve posted this before, but you may have forgotten. So here you go.
Poppy Seed Chicken
1 supermarket rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1/3 cup butter melted
Remove the chicken from the bones and shred it. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and cook the mushrooms until they have released all their juice and they are well browned. Reserve. In a large bowl, mix the chicken soup, sour cream, and poppy seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and the chicken.
Pour chicken mixture into a 9-by-13 dish. Crush the crackers and mix with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.