Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spanish Rice Bake

Casserole...Bake..Hot Dish... You either love them or hate them.  

Well, I guess there's a middle ground, but... Some people just can't do the whole food mixed together thing, and some people have been scarred by their childhood casserole experience - you know the ones - smothered in multiple cans of cream of something and topped with greasy potato chip crumbs [shiver].  Others love the convenience of the one-dish dinner and have fond memories of potlucks and family dinners.

Here's an easy one to try - make up a pan for dinner, and then another one to share or keep in the freezer when you need a quick dinner.

Spanish Rice Bake

1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup water or chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup chile sauce (adjust to your family's spiciness - we like it hot)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain excess fat and transfer beef to a large pot over medium low heat.  Stir in the onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes, water, rice, chile sauce, salt, brown sugar, cumin, Worcestershire sauce and ground black pepper.

Let this simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then transport this to a 2-quart casserole dish. (If you're going to freeze this, you'll want to cut a few minutes off the simmering time, to slightly under cook the rice.  That way, it won't be too mushy when you thaw and heat it.)  Press down firmly and sprinkle with the shredded Cheddar cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

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