The fundamentals of this recipe are great! I was excited to try it given the current time of year. However, the first time I made it, I did find it to be 'stodgy' and dry and nothing like you would expect of a casserole. Nothing at all wrong with the combined flavours, just texture really. I think first off, there is too much rice. However, not wanting to give up on this recipe, the second time I made it I tweaked it a little. I have never added sugar, I believe carrots raisins and apple provide enough natural sweetness. The first time I made this I too had a problem with the carrots cooking all the way through. So this time I made it differently, I added more carrot and onion and added them to the crockpot. Layered on top was the apple and raisins, and on top of that the browned off sausage (chicken). To me a casserole is not a casserole without a tin of tomatoes, so, I added one. Then came the sprinkling of spices and the chicken stock. I let that cook on low for 4 hours before stirring, letting it cook for another 2 hours. I then stirred in the cooked rice (along with a touch more stock) and let it cook for another 2 hours. The carrots were cooked, all flavours were exposed and the consistency was just right. Next time I make it, I may even add a little chili spice or something?
I have made this twice now, once on low for 8 hours, once on high for 4 hours, and both times it came out AMAZING. I used TJ's chicken mango sausage, and substituted Craisins for the raisins. I didn't have allspice, so I used a little extra cinnamon, a little ginger, and a little ground cloves. (And when I say "a little", I mean a couple of shakes.) Finally, and most importantly, THE TYPE OF RICE YOU USE MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE! I have seen a few comments that this dish comes out mushy, but I found the perfect rice that adds a fabulous texture: Trader Joe's "Brown Rice Medley". Yes, it takes forever to cook, but it's so worth it! Thanks for posting this so I won't lose it either. ;-)
Mama, this is a wonderful casserole, delicious plus quick and easy to put together. We really enjoyed the flavor. The only problem I had was that the carrots didn't get done after cooking 8 hrs on low. I will definitely make again, next time shredding the carrots instead. Thanks so much for a keeper!