First thing is to cook a lot of chicken. I usually use boneless chicken breasts and I buy them when they are on sale or either I buy a couple of gigantic bags at Costco. I always cook one whole bag and almost the whole second bag. I usually save about 4 breasts to cook for my family at a later date. I simply fill up my two huge stock pots with chicken breasts and add water to cover. I add lots of pepper and a good bit of salt. I usually add some Cavender's seasoning also and a little garlic salt just for flavor. When the chicken is done, I remove from the boiling water and place in one of my disposable pans and let it cool enough to handle. I turn the burner back onto high and let the broth cook down at this point to use later. After all the chicken is chopped or shredded into bite sized pieces, I start assembling the casseroles. I use the 1/2 steam table pans which I buy in a big pack at Costco.
I mix up one pan at a time. I've tried it the other way and believe me, this works much better. It is hard to stir all the ingredients if you mix it all together. So for each steam table pan, you will need:
24 ounces sour cream
1 big can of cream of chicken soup
1 regular can of cream of chicken soup
Spray pan with Pam and then add sour cream and soup and gently mix together in the pan.
Then I add the chopped chicken on top of the sour cream/soup mixture.
How much chicken? Well, I use my glass four cup measuring cup and I fill it to the top. I would assume that is at least five cups chicken. Next time, I am going to add another one to two cups of chicken to each pan. It was a little bit soupier than I like after I baked it.
Now gently mix the chicken and soup and sour cream together in the pan.
For the top of each casserole, melt one stick real butter. I don't even buy margarine anymore - just butter. You can see that I'm using that same four cup glass measuring cup. I use it a lot when I'm cooking. Melt the stick of butter. I zap it in the microwave for about a minute or so.
Then I use the tools that God gave me - my hands - and I crumble the Ritz Crackers . . while still in the sleeve. WORD OF WARNING - if you crumble the crackers too vigorously, you will have a mess because the end of the sleeve will open and crackers will fly all over your kitchen. Yes, I know from experience.
Add the crackers to the melted butter and add a couple of tablespoons of poppy seed to the mixture.
Spread all over the top of the casserole. The topping is really good so you do not want to skimp on this step. Add more crackers if necessary.
At this point, you can cover with foil and slip into a two gallon freezer bag and freeze until needed or you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. If you freeze the casseroles, place in refrigerator the day before needed. Preheat oven to 350 and cook for a very long time (unless it is totally thawed before you begin baking). I usually get home at 3:00 and put the casseroles in the oven and take them out around 6:00 p.m. If you are making multiple casseroles, repeat the above steps. I usually make three casseroles to feed 25 - 30 people. That means that you would need:
2 giant bags of boneless chicken breasts from Costco
3 steam table pans
3 - 24 ounce containers of sour cream (or nine 8 ounce containers)
3 big cans of cream of chicken soup
3 regular cans of cream of chicken soup
6 tablespoons poppy seed
3 sticks butter
3 rolls Ritz Crackers (I think I ended up using all four rolls for my three casseroles)