Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mexican Rice Casserole

I watched Ree Drummond on her first episode of Pioneer Woman and cringed.  I thought she was terribly awkward and that it made the episode absolutely horrible.  I have met her in real life and she was so easy-going and personable that it was hard to watch her be so cold and forced on the show.

I still tape the show every weekend and watch it if I have time.  I still see a very different woman on the show than the one I met, but I can make it through the show without cringing.  A few weeks ago, she had a Fiesta episode, where she made this Mexican Rice from scratch.  We have a four pound bag of rice in our pantry, so I figured it would be a great recipe to try.  The recipe she makes serves 12 people, and I scaled it down so that it served four people, and the two of us still had 3 meals worth of rice, so beware, even this recipe makes a lot of rice.

Mexican Rice Casserole
slightly adapted from Food Network 
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup long grain rice
14.5-ounce cans whole tomatoes
One 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic and onions. Cook, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat, about 3 minutes.
3) Next, add the whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and let cook, about 2 minutes.
4) Finally, add the water and stir the mixture together. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until the rice is not quite done, 10 to 15 minutes.
5) Top with the cheese, and then bake with the lid off until the cheese is melted and the rice fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

This rice was amazing.  Ours was a little bit spicy, but I think I got a spicy can of Rotel.  This definitely is a little more work than packet Mexican Rice, but the flavor in the end is the payoff.  Even only using one cup of rice, we had a lot of leftovers, which were happily eaten.  I'll definitely make this as a side to many of our Mexican dishes to come. 

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