Chicken Casserole D'Iberville

2 (3-pound) whole chickens
1 cup water
1 cup dry sherry
2 celery stalks
1 onion, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 (6-ounce) packages long-grain and wild rice mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
1 bunch green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve round buttery crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 (6-ounce) can French-fried onions, crushed
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Bring first 9 ingredients to a boil in a large Dutch oven; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is done. Remove chicken, reserving broth in Dutch oven. Let chicken cool. Pour broth through a fine wire mesh strainer into an 8-cup liquid measuring cup; discard solids.
Cook rice according to package directions, substituting 4 1/4 cups reserved chicken broth for water and omitting butter. (Add water to broth to equal 4 1/4 cups, if necessary.)

Skin, bone, and coarsely chop or shred chicken.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; add mushrooms and green onions, and sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice, chicken, sour cream, and soup. Spoon mixture into 8 (2-cup) casserole dishes, 8 (5 1/2- x 3 1/2- x 2-inch) mini-loaf pans, 3 (8-inch or 9-inch) square baking dishes, or 1 (4-quart or 15- x 10-inch) casserole dish.

Stir together crushed crackers and fried onions. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, paprika, and garlic powder. Sprinkle casserole evenly with cracker mixture.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 to 10 more minutes or until bubbly.

To make ahead: Cover casseroles tightly with foil, and freeze unbaked up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake as directed. (Casserole may also be baked frozen. Plan to double the baking times.)

To microwave one frozen, unbaked 8-inch square casserole: Casserole must be in a microwave-safe dish. Cover dish with wax paper. Microwave at HIGH 15 to 16 minutes or until casserole is bubbly, giving dish a half-turn once.

To microwave one thawed, unbaked 8-inch square casserole: Follow directions to microwave a frozen, unbaked casserole, reducing microwave time to 7 to 8 minutes.

**Use 2 deli-roasted chickens (about 2 pounds each) in place of boiled chickens. Use 1 cup dry sherry and 3 1/4 cups (26 ounces) canned chicken broth to cook rice.

Yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings