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Make-ahead Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole

Posted by Peggy on March 23, 2013

Recipe: Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked, long-grain white rice (not instant)
  • 2 (10 ounce) can Mexican seasoned canned diced tomatoes (such as Rotel) with juice
  • 2-3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted Mexican seasoning blend*
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large assorted colored bell peppers, seeds and membranes removed;cut into 3/4-inch pieces (3-4 cups)
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeds and membranes removed; cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed; diced (1/4 cup)
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds, air-chilled chicken, if available)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Lime wedges, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse rice well. In a pot, bring tomatoes and chicken stock to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is just tender, about 20-30 minutes depending on rice. Add additional stock to pot is rice is hard and stock is depleted. When cooked, remove from heat, stir in garlic, 1 tablespoon seasoning, 3 tablespoons cilantro and season with kosher salt, if needed. Let sit, covered, until ready to assemble with chicken and vegetables.
  3. While rice is cooking, in a large sauté pan, heat one of the tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add bell peppers, poblano and jalapeno and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove from pan, stir in corn kernels, season with kosher salt if needed, and reserve.
  4. Lightly season chicken breasts with kosher salt and rub 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning blend into both sided of the chicken breasts. In the same pan you cooked the peppers, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat. Sear breasts 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. (The meat should be just just white with a hint of pink at the center.) Remove from pan and when cool enough to handle, slice diagonally into 1-inch pieces.
  5. When ready to assemble, stir pepper mixture into rice and place in an 8x12-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken pieces over rice, tucking them halfway into rice. Evenly sprinkle 1 cup cheese over casserole, adding more if desired. Cover with non-stick foil or oil that has been lightly oiled. (Casserole may be refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.) Bake on center rack of oven 25 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon cilantro and serve with lime wedges, if using.

*Powdered cumin, chili powder or any combination of Southwest seasonings fine; I used Morton & Bassett Mexican Blend.

Number of servings (yield): 8

Active Time: 40 minutes

Bake Time: apx. 30 minutes

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