I'm getting pretty close to my due date (less than 3 weeks go to!), and over the past month or so I've been stocking my freezer for when we bring the baby home. I have a few casseroles and baked pasta dishes, but for the most part I've been stocking it with things to make mealtimes easier and faster - pizza dough, smoothie kits, shredded chicken and pork, chicken stock, beans...
In general, we don't eat a lot of casseroles, but I think they certainly have their place - they can be frozen, feed you for several meals, reheat well, and they are usually cheesy and comforting. This particular casserole is full of some of my favorite flavors and ingredients - cheese, chipotles, black beans, corn... and then it's topped with a buttery, crunchy, tortilla chip topping. I made the full recipe, but I split it into two 8x8 inch baking dishes. I baked one for dinner that night (and then subsequently enjoyed the leftovers for several days following), and froze the second one.
This is a bit more work than what you may be used to for a simple casserole, and it's a fairly lengthy ingredient list, but I didn't mind spending the time to make it when I took into account the number of times it would feed us. And when I pull the second one out of the freezer, it will be a meal that requires zero effort on my part. A definite plus when I have a newborn at home!
Chicken and Rice Casserole with Chiles, Corn, and Black Beans
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, The Best Make-Ahead Recipes
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 medium red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped medium
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 jalapeno chiles, seeds and ribs removed
- kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 chipotle chiles en adobo, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chile powder
- 1/4 cup flour
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-5 breast halves), trimmed of excess fat
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 4 oz Pepperjack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
- juice of 2 limes
- ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup minced scallions
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 6 oz corn tortilla chips
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
- salt and black pepper
Add the chicken and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked all the way through, reading 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10-15 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.
Stir the rice into the pot, cover, and continue to cook on low heat, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed a good bit of the liquid and is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes (mine was still pretty soupy, but the rice was cooked all the way through - it will absorb and thicken more as it bakes in the oven).
As the rice cooks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, and make the crumb topping: pulse the corn chips with the butter in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Toss with cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the chicken, black beans, corn, cheese, and lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the scallions and half the cilantro.
Pour the mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with the crumb topping.
To bake immediately: Bake the casserole in a 400 degree oven, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are crisp, 25 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro before serving.
To store: Wrap the dish tightly with foil and then plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month (If frozen, thaw the casserole completely in the refrigerator before baking). Bake at 400 degrees, covered with foil, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes longer.