Monday, March 7, 2016

Baked Mexican Rice, Mushrooms and Meat Casserole

Baked Mexican Rice, Mushrooms and Meat Casserole

Here Winter still looms even though the Spring wants to push it out. Some days it rains and some other rains too. The current wife leaves home early (somebody has to work, right?) and the days I am not teaching or writing...I cook. Usually this kind of weather calls for nice cozy food. Somehow I recall from my childhood this kind of dish...simple to put together but a bit time consuming when preparing. I would assume that the woman who enjoyed calling me son did some sort of a similar dish but without the Mexican flavor. Most likely I will guess it had more of a Chilean flavor.

This year I have decided to bring back the old ways as I am kind of sick and tired of this fat free, gluten free, sugar free and flavor free times. Also food is getting quite expensive so creativity is an important part of the deal. This time around I decided it was time to bring back the beef-pork ground meat mixture and, I have to say...the result is fantastic.

When the wife came back I have left a note asking her to turn on the oven at certain time and start baking the casserole once the oven was temperature ready, so when I was to come back from teaching (one of my few night classes I teach) was to be almost ready. When I came back, the wife was on the phone with la suegra (mother in law)....the casserole was where I left it, along with the note, and the oven was as cold as the weather outside. So much for bringing the old time costumes back. Fail.

In any event, understanding husband as I am...I did as the note explained...then the wife showed up to say that she didn't see the note (big orange post-it on the door where she gets in....). I sight and looked at her with the most loving look I have. Sooner than later dinner was ready and was great. Honestly great.

So, if you want to bring back the old times, try this recipe, just avoid the wife part. The food will bring great memories and will warm up your heart.

Baked Mexican Rice, Mushrooms and Meat Casserole

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings


For the rice:

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 Onion finely chopped

1 1/2 Cup long-grain white rice

1/2 Cup mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots and corn)

3 1/2 Cups of chicken broth

For the sauté mushrooms

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Butter

1 10 oz (284 ml) canned whole mushrooms

1 1/2 Tsp Onion powder

For the Ground Meat 

4 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Large onion finely chopped 200 g Extra lean ground beef

200 g Lean Ground pork meat

1 Cube Knorr beef seasoning

1 6 oz Sliced black olives (canned)

1 Cup White wine (dry is better)

For building the Casserole

2 Large eggs, room temperature

1 Large roasted red pepper sliced

1 Cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 Cup Mozzarella cheese grated

Cooking Instructions
  • Rice: In a medium size pan warm up the oil and sauté the onion. Add the rice and sauté for about 15 minutes until the rice becomes slightly browned. Remember to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  •  Add the broth and the frozen veggies and raise the flame to high and bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium high and allow the water to evaporate to the point where you can see the rice though the water, then cover with the lid and lower the heat to simmer. Allow it to simmer without ever opening the lid (or you get a soggy rice) for 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and let it stand for another 10 minutes, then stir with a fork -not anything else-. Reserve.

  • Mushrooms: On a frying pan warm up the olive oil and the butter until really hot, then add the drained mushrooms (whole) and season with the onion powder. Keep mixing so they don’t burn. Once they look semi-browned, turn off the heat and reserve.

  • Meat: In a medium size pot caramelize the onion using the olive oil (until translucent), then add the two ground meats and mix by stirring frequently. Once the meat has browned a bit, add the sliced black olives, season with the Knorr cube and close the lid. Lower the heat to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. At the very end add the white wine and allow it to absorb without the lid but still at lower heat.

  • Turn on the oven to 375˚

  • Building the casserole: The final step! First butter a medium rectangular glass mold (I actually used a square one). Reserve.

  • Add the 2 eggs to the rice and stir until incorporated, then add the sliced red pepper and the mushrooms. We are ready to start the layering process…

  • The first layer is rice, so we divide the rice in 2 equal parts. Using the first half, we build the first layer and we compress it a bit so when we serve it doesn’t fall apart. The second layer is the meat (all of it). Make an even distribution and compress it also (remember that the meat doesn’t have egg mixture!) and finally the third layer (rice) which will be the top. Compress it again. By now we should have the casserole almost ready.

  • Top the casserole with the mixed cheeses and it is ready for baking! Bake for 20 minutes. The cheese on top should look a bit browned is some parts (not all though!…Otherwise you just burned the cheese!). The casserole is ready to be served.
  •  Enjoy!

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