It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned Cookin' Mimi - a blog full of comfort food and home cooking with lots of influences like Southern, Southwestern, and some International. The author is a Southern Californian with a Southern family - which explains the variety of influences! She doesn't remember a time when she wasn't cooking.
I was in crunch mode when I chose a recipe, on the search for an easy dinner. Mimi is a big fan of casseroles, like me, so I looked at this Cheesy Broccoli Chicken and Rice Casserole and this traditional Chicken and Rice Casserole, but decided on this Cheesy Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole.
But back to the casserole! It is really straightforward and simple - combine chicken, green chiles, rice, and a sour cream sauce; top with cheese; bake; the end. But something in the recipe jumped out at me as unfamiliar - it called for par-boiled or converted rice. What the heck is that? I turned to the internet and found out that by par-boiling the rice, the nutrients of the outer parts are forced into the grain before they are removed - making it something in between brown and white rice. In fact, it supposedly has most of the nutrients of brown rice, an even lower glycemic index, and the soft texture of white rice, without getting as mushy. How had I never heard of this before?! It is perfect to use in casseroles and slow cookers because the texture holds up. It's awesome!
But, there is a downside - unless you are ordering it from Asia, most brands are grown in the Southern US and have high levels of inorganic arsenic, which is toxic. So, you know, don't eat a ton of it all the time.
Anyway, this casserole was mega comforting and delicious. I am a total spicy wuss, and the can of mild chiles was enough to add flavor without much heat, which I appreciated. I am thinking of decreasing the amount of rice and adding in corn and black beans for more variety and less carbs the next time I make it, but this is a hit.
Cheesy Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole
adapted from Cookin' Mimi
2 cups par-boiled or converted rice
4 cups water
2 cups cooked chopped chicken*
4 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth*
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 cups shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Spray or butter a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish.
Cook the rice in the water according to the package directions. Place in a large bowl along with the chicken and green chiles.
In a skillet melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
Sprinkle with flour and whisk together. Cook for another minute or two until the raw flour smell is gone.
Whisk in the chicken broth a little at a time. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes or until thickened.
Place the sour cream in a bowl and whisk in a small amount, approximately 1/2 cup, of the thickened sauce. Pour the sour cream into the skillet and gently warm.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and rice. Gently stir to combine.
Pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with cheese and bake for 45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly and golden brown (30 minutes for me, so I turned off the oven and left it in for 15 more minutes).
Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
*I poached 2 chicken breasts and used the broth created by that. To do this, place boneless skinless chicken in the bottom of a large pot. Toss a quartered onion, carrots (no need to peel), celery, garlic, peppercorns, a bay leaf, and fresh thyme over the top. Cover with water (just the chicken, the veg can be floating), bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to low so that the water is barely at a simmer. Partially cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat completely, and allow chicken to sit in the hot water for another 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken and strain out the solids.
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