Have y'all heard that guy from American Idol who was a wannabe rapper and did the pants on the ground rap? If not, you're missing out and should probably check him out here, if only so you don't think I'm being ridiculous and making this up.

Some local Huntsville business has adopted this tune for their purposes to ask, "Credit goin' down?" and promote their business. Well, last night I wrote another new version of his rap. It goes like this:
Chicken ain't done, chicken ain't done
Lookin' like a fool cuz my chicken ain't done!

It's good, right? Here's the story.

On Saturday, I heated up some canned soup for Hubby and myself. Even though none of the soup was actual Campbell's brand, I got the Campbell's ditty stuck in my head. You know, the one that goes "Campbell's, mmm mmm good, possibilities," and then has another disparate part that goes "cheesy chicken and rice casserole (something something something)." So I decided I just HAD to make this casserole. (Plus we had like 10 chicken breasts in the fridge that either needed to get cooked or frozen ASAP. I chose cooking over freezing.)

I found the recipe on allrecipes.com. I don't really know why I didn't think to go to the official Campbell's website, but I didn't, and this is what Google gave me. I mostly got excited because the website gave me the option to print it as a 4x6 page, which is the size of the cards in my recipe box! Anyway, notice this recipe says, "Bake...for 45 minutes or until done." Can I just say that I HATE recipes with instructions like that? Clearly, since I am following your recipe, I don't know how long it will take to be "done." But luckily, I know what "done" chicken looks like, and I knew that mine was not it when I pulled it out of the oven after 45 minutes. It was still sort of pink and rubbery. No good. Hubby even checked it with our brand-new, wedding gift meat thermometer, and it was a good 10 or 20 degrees below where cooked chicken should be (according to our handy dandy George Foreman Grill meat cooking guide). I stuck it back in the oven for 10 minutes, and then another 5, all the while singing softly, "chicken ain't done, chicken ain't done, lookin' like a fool cuz my chicken ain't done..." Usually recipes are not so far off the mark as this one was!

I finally made the executive decision that it was done when it was white throughout, even though the thermometer didn't quite agree with me. Hubby and I are both fine today, so I don't think we got salmonella from it. This was not quite a debacle on the scale of some newlywed kitchen disasters I have heard of, but I was thankful we had decided against extended an impromptu invitation to the in-laws for my "easy" cheesy chicken and rice casserole. :-)

Also, may I just add that this recipe's name is a misnomer? It only calls for 1/2 a cup of cheese. Half a cup of cheese spread over an 8x11 in casserole dish does not a cheesy casserole make.

Lessons learned: maybe I will stick to casseroles that call for cooking the chicken BEFORE baking the whole thing (poppyseed chicken, anyone? Yes please.), or at least recipes with more exact cooking times. And also, I will always use extra cheese.

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman