Hawaiian Haystacks (with brown rice and no cream-of-anything soup)

I’ve been eating this dish, in one form or another, for as long as I can remember and it just never gets old. I’ve passed on my love for Hawaiian Haystacks down to my kids, when one of my boys saw that we were having these for dinner it was met with a fist pump in the air and an exaggerated “yeeeessssss!” I feel the same way, buddy. The options for toppings are endless, I’ve had so many versions of this over the years and it’s always enlightening to see what other people choose to put on theirs. I must say, of all the ones I’ve had, this version is my favorite because there is no cream-of-anything soup involved and I love the taste and texture of this brown rice, but if white rice is your thing, than by all means. This is your haystack, so Hawaiian it up any way you like.

For the rice:
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add rice, salt and broth to a 3-quart baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before removing the aluminum foil and fluffing with a fork.

For the sauce:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic; finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
½ cup water
2 tsp chicken bouillon
Optional toppings: shredded cheese, olives, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, mandarin oranges, pineapple (crushed or chunks), chow mein noodles, sliced celery

Cook and shred chicken (I prefer to cook it in the crockpot with a little broth on low for 5-6 hrs). In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, water and bouillon. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper. Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your toppings of choice.

*Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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