Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recipe: Taco rice casserole, lunch for a rainy day

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I have a few quick, easy, one-pot meals in my stable on which I rely again and again. This dish, which can be called Spanish rice, Mexican rice, taco rice, and probably many other things, is one of my family's favorites. It takes only a few minutes to prepare, can be made days ahead and reheated, freezes fine, and is fun to decorate with various condiments (always a hit with the kids).

Taco rice
serves an infinite number of people (because I always make a lot)

  • 3 lbs ground turkey or beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder or taco seasoning
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice or puree
  • 2 cups rice (I use brown medium-grain, but any rice will do)
  • 1 large bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • accompaniments: shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, crushed tortilla chips

Brown meat in large pot over high heat. Add onions and peppers; stir about five minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and chili powder; stir one minute. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, rice and three to four cups of water. You want it to look soupy at this point, because the rice will absorb a lot of the liquid as it cooks.

Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the rice is cooked and has absorbed the liquid. Stir in the scallions and cilantro. You'll want to check it every 20 minutes or so while it's cooking, and stir, to make sure there's enough liquid in the pot. If, at the end, the rice is cooked and there's still a lot of liquid, take off the lid and simmer it uncovered for a while.
Serve at this point with accompaniments, or turn off the heat and let it sit on the stove for a while. It keeps well. Reheat over low, adding more liquid if necessary so it doesn't burn on the bottom.
Note: This also makes an excellent filling, the next day, for quesadillas or burritos.

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