SPEAKING OF FOOD: Hope these recipes please unhappy caller

I received a phone message from a not-too-happy reader last week who fussed at me for mentioning dishes in this column and then not providing the recipes.
The dishes in question were Anita Alef’s chicken casserole and her green beans. Anita recently opened a restaurant in New Albany and I called her one day a couple of weeks ago to find out how she made those delicious recipes.
The reason I didn’t provide the recipes last week was because she really didn’t give them to me – she just gave me some general directions. For instance, on her chicken casserole recipe, she said she just uses the Chicken Spectacular recipe that’s in every cookbook in Northeast Mississippi, only she omits the green beans, water chestnuts and pimiento. And I think she said she uses cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of celery.
For the green beans, she said she uses canned green beans, rinsed well, which she cooks down in fresh water and seasons with chopped onions, bacon drippings, sugar and red wine vinegar.
I used her instructions, vague as they might have been, and made two presentable dishes. But I must say, they were not nearly as good as Anita’s. If you want the real thing, you’ll have to visit Nita’s Eatery yourself and try to figure out what makes hers so delicious.
Maybe it’s the love she puts into every pot.
For those who’ve never had the original Chicken Spectacular before, here’s the recipe that appears in “Cooking with the Saints,” a cookbook compiled by the ladies at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo.
And speaking of All Saints’, the women will not be hosting a Food Fest this year, due to other pressing commitments. But they plan to be back next year, with frozen casseroles and all kinds of fresh baked goods.
St. James Catholic Church’s food bazaar will still be held in November. You can read more about that event in the newspaper on Oct. 28.

Chicken Spectacular
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 package Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
1 can cream of celery soup
1 medium jar chopped pimento
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cans French-style green beans
1 can sliced water chestnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

Cook rice in chicken broth with a little less liquid than called for on the package directions. Mix chicken and rice with next seven ingredients. Sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley. Place in a large casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until thoroughly heated.
Serves 12.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal