Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2 quart or 9x13 baking sheet.
Melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in flour, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute to cook off raw flour taste.
Slowly pour in wine and chicken broth whisking continuously. Whisk until thick and nearly boiling.
Reduce heat to medium low and then stir in 2 cups of cheese until melted. Turn off heat and stir in cooked rice and chicken.
Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.
Thyme Leaves: If you don't have fresh thyme--do not worry!! It adds an extra layer of flavor that I enjoy but is completely not necessary. You can substitute ½ to 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves works as well. Do not use ground thyme. The flavor is overwhelming. Wine: White wine adds a rich depth of flavor to this chicken and rice casserole, but is not necessary, just replace it with an additional ¼ cup of chicken stock.Garlic: This recipe has a lot of added garlic, feel free to cut the amount in half, if you are sensitive to high amounts of garlic. Storage: Store leftover chicken and rice casserole in a covered container for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Make-Ahead Instructions: To prepare this casserole in advance, prepare up to baking. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
To bake from the fridge, remove casserole from the fridge and remove 1 layer of foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, letting the casserole sit on the counter while the oven preheats. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until warmed through.
To bake from the freezer, remove casserole from freeze and remove 1 layer of foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes covered and then uncovered for 15 additional minutes.