Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spicy Chicken & Rice Casserole

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
Corn Chip Crumb Topping
  • 6 oz corn tortilla chips
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
  • salt and black pepper
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the bell peppers, onion, jalapenos, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chipotles, cumin, and chile powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the broth and cream.

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.


Annie said...

Big huge yum.

thewrights said...

What is a smoothie kit? My husband loves smoothies but they seem cumbersome to make!

Slice of Southern said...

This looks GOOD! You are making me hungry...

Jessica @Sunny Side Up said...

Sounds like my kind of casserole!

elly said...

This looks ridiculously good. Mmm.

Laura said...

This looks great! Have been wanting to add more corn/black beans to our weekly menu. Thanks!

Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? said...

Yum!! I love casseroles you can make ahead and freeze. Thanks for sharing!

Joanne said...

I feel like if you're gonna make a casserole, Cook's Illustrated is the perfect place to get it cause at least you know you're getting something quality. This looks great!

PS - SO excited for you!

Michelle said...

I usually say I'm not a fan of casseroles that a can of cream of anything. Some casseroles are pretty fabulous and this looks like one of them. I'll have to try it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! Can't wait to try it. Just one question: When do I add the cheese?

Pam said...

You know some casseroles are a bit blah. But this one sounds quite yummy. Of course for me, anything with black beans and cilantro gets my vote!

Anna @ hiddenponies said...

YUM! I've been loving your blog, and this is yet another recipe to add to the pile :) I love new make-ahead casseroles and have so much trouble thinking of things to do with rice - this is a win-win for me! All the best in the homestretch before baby!

Josie said...

The Wrights,
In freezer bags, I portioned out 1 cup of mixed fruit, 1/2 sliced and frozen banana, and yogurt that I froze in ice cube trays. When it's time to make the smoothie, I just add a little milk, flax, and spinach. Makes the whole process so much easier!

Josie said...

Anonymous, I fixed the error - thanks for catching it!

From Valerie's Kitchen said...

It is so good of you to be thinking ahead. You will be SO glad that you did. It seems the closer I got to my due dates (4x!) the less brain function I had and I never thought to do prepare any dinners in advance.

Madi @ Sit Down and Eat Your Peas! said...

I absolutely love casserole-type dishes that I can make with minimum hassle on Sunday nights and take to work for lunch all week long. I think this is the choice for next week! Last week was chicken mole and beef stew-super easy dishes!

Michele said...

I'm a casserole junky - I think because they are easy for me to put everything together and stick it in the oven. I loved the ingredients in this chicken and rice along with the spicy, of course. It was a snap to make and my family really liked it, even my pickiest eater cleaned her plate!! Thank you!

pks said...

I love this recipe too. I'm so glad you took a picture of it. I've made it twice and forgotten to get a picture both times--I'm going to use your picture until I take my own.

This is a great recipe when you are making something to take to another family (new baby, illness, etc.) because it makes a lot (leftovers) and you can vary the spiciness (I don't care for chiles en adobo--not part of the original recipe but a great addition for those who like that flavor--, but I do add extra jalepeƱos).

A few observations:
1. I have never been able to get this recipe into a 9x13 inch. I think it requires a 10x 15 inch casserole dish (I've changed my blog entry to reflect the larger pan size).
2. Also, it always seems to take longer than 35 minutes to cook. I would say at least 45 minutes (I cover with foil if the topping is getting too brown).
3. I would say this recipe serves at least 10 people (recipe says 8).

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