Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tex-mex chicken and rice bake

What do you do when you haven't been grocery shopping, but are craving a home cooked meal? Raid the pantry and make something up. And in classic Midwestern fashion...the hot dish comes to the rescue. Sometimes the results of such a cabinet and fridge dump are surprising.

I realize this dinner is a theme with many a variation. However, not a single recipe was consulted or perused prior to throwing the meal together. Out of curiosity, later on I may dig around online and in cookbooks to see how close my recipe came to others in existence. But for now, I'm sated and satisfied from my own little creation.

The recipe is my own.

serves 3-4

The Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1 1/4 cup beef, chicken or vegetable stock
2/3 cup low fat yogurt, plain
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup salsa (heat of your preference)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sage
1 can (14 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 medium tomato, diced
1 medium red pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby, Monterey jack and Manchego work well)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3-4 portions

The Process:
In a saucepan over medium heat combine the brown rice, wild rice and broth and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let stand undisturbed for 20-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350

In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt and sour cream. Fold in salsa, chili pepper, garlic powder, cumin and sage. Stir until well blended.

Assemble the casserole in a 9x9 or 7x11 inch baking dish, beginning with the rice. Spread roughly 2/3 of the salsa mixture over the rice, layer the beans over, followed by the corn, tomato and red pepper. Sprinkle generously with half of the shredded cheese. Arrange the chicken breasts on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand before serving.

The Review:
The end result was a little soupy, but full of the flavors and textures reminiscent of enchiladas. All the the layers contributed to a great palette of textures, though something crunchy was noticeable absent. Had I made a more traditional casserole of the midwestern variety, I suppose cubing the chicken and generously sprinkling the top of the dish with crushed tortillas would have solved this dilemma. C'est la vie. There will be future last-minute hot dishes to experiment with. In the meantime, I need to brainstorm about how I could have cut down the cooking time...without using instant rice, mind you.

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