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Help lightening up this recipe

I had this at a potluck over the weekend and promised my husband I'd make it--until I got the complete recipe from the woman who made it. Now I need a way to lighten it up. It's apparently a popular Southern potluck dish called "Hot Chicken Salad Casserole." I was enthusiastic when the cook told me she used turkey, celery, onions, almonds, and wild rice (an addition that she happened to have on hand). Great. I've got all those. But then she told me later it calls for a cup of mayonnaise, cream of chicken soup, and shredded cheddar--and she also threw in sour cream. Topped with crushed potato chips.

I bought panko crumbs to replace the chips, but what should I use to bind the chicken, sliced almonds, sauteed celery and onions, and wild rice? I really don't want to use mayo or sour cream. And I also don't think the cheese is all that necessary--but I do have some mild white cheddar from a local dairy.

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    1. re: cutipie721

      Thanks, but I don't have any. I guess I'm just going to make a white sauce.

      1. re: cutipie721

        That was my suggestion too. I often use greek yogurt in place of sour cream and sometimes mayo in recipes.

      2. White sauce (bechamel) enriched with some sour cream. And, of course, the cheddar needs to be there.

        1. A traditional white sauce is high calorie, high carb and has fat.... so I don't really think of that as a "lighter" choice.

          4 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            I'm not sure about that: my white sauce is butter, flour, and 1% milk (or evaporated skim). I'm sure that's lighter than both sour cream and mayo--plus cream of chicken and cheese.

            1. re: Thanks4Food

              It all depends on what you mean by "lighter." Lower calorie? Lower carb? Lower fat? All of the above?

              1 cup of white sauce made with 2T butter, 2T flour and 1 cup of 1% milk has 363 calories, 26 grams of fat, 23g carbs.

              1. re: weezieduzzit

                All of the above. There are 916 calories, 78.5 grams of fat and 56 carbs in a cup of mayo. And I haven't even gotten to the sour cream or cheese yet.

                1. re: Thanks4Food

                  There are 492 calories in a cup of sour cream, but how many servings does this recipe make? It's not like you or your husband are going to eat a cup of mayo and a cup of sour cream in one serving or one sitting.

                  Yes it is a high calorie, high fat dish, that's one of the reasons why it tastes good. If you can't reduce the amount of fat and calories by making ingredient substitutions, you can reduce the impact by serving a smaller portion and augmenting the meal with the addition of low calorie, high fiber sides, like a big tossed salad, cooked veggies that you both like or fresh fruit. Julia Child advocated moderation, and this dish may just be one of those things. Enjoy it for what it is, but eat it in moderation.

                  Good luck, hope you find somthing acceptable that works for you...

          2. Something similar to the original at Epicurious

            Chicken And Wild Rice Casserole
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Antilope

              I'm afraid Southern ladies would take exception to your saying "the original at Epicurious." There's no wild rice or green beans or pimentos in the original Southern dish. The woman who made it just threw in some wild rice because she had it.

              I know this will be looked at with horror, but I was pressed for time and so just added a mixture of 1 can cream of mushroom soup with 3/4 can of milk--and some Dubliner cheese I shredded. My husband loved it. And I really loved the panko topping which was much crunchier than the potato chip topping.

            2. I would not cut out the creamy ingredients entirely, but for part of the binder you could use some mashed potato, or one of the cooked baby cereals.

              1. If your husband loved the original version, he is not getting it from your version.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                  I agree.
                  Frankly, I'd say don't "lighten it up". Unless one eats this sort of dish every day, there's no need to start changing up a dish you like.
                  The words "lightened up version" when referring to a favorite or traditional dish can usually be taken as a warning rather than attribute.

                  1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                    He's never had it, and I don't want to make anything with a cup of mayo in it--or potato chips on top.

                  2. If your husband is not familiar with the recipe, I would cut out the mayo and sour cream.
                    You can cut back on the cheese.

                    1. The one thing I wouldn't change is the potato chips. IMO they make the dish.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        I thought the panko crumb topping was much much tastier than the potato chips. And it was much crunchier too. Since my husband was very happy with it, I'm not changing it! :-)

                      2. this is one of the more confusing threads i've seen on here...

                        a chicken casserole made with turkey..

                        something the op promised to make for her husband, but he's never had it, so really she's making up something else entirely?

                        is cream of mushroom soup really that much "healthier" than cream of chicken?

                        am all confuzzled, sorry.

                        1 Reply