Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wild Rice and Beef Casserole

I enjoy making casseroles. You pop them in the oven and the work is done! However, they can be a lot of work to prepare. This one required a lot more prep than the recipe stated! However, once it was in the oven, it was great.

There's not a lot I would do differently with this one. I really enjoyed it, and I think this is definitely one I'd take to a picnic or church potluck.

1lb. lean ground beef (80/20 works best)
1 package (6.2 oz) fast-cooking, long-grain and wild rice mix.
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)

Heat oven to 350 F. Spray 2-quart casserike with cooking spray.
In a 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, until brown. Drain.
Meanwhile, make rice mix as directed on package, omitting butter.
Stir in rice mixture, soup, milk, and pepper into beef. Spoon into casserole.
Cover and bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered 5 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and mixture is hot.

Notes:
  • I used ground chuck for this casserole. I prefer ground chuck over ground beef; it doesn't shrink as fast in the pan like ground beef, but it's not as expensive as ground sirloin, etc.
  • I used Uncle Ben's rice, and it worked fine. It was a broccoli and cheese flavored recipe, and you couldn't really taste the cheese. However, next time I'll probably try either white rice or a non-cheesy flavored rice.
  • I liked this casserole a lot, but I wasn't a huge fan of the tomato sauce. I'm definitely going to try a cream of mushroom soup next time. I think that might compliment the ground chuck more than the tomato sauce.
  • The one thing I would add is a dash of salt. However, that's a personal taste preference.
  • I added a small amount of olive oil to the ground chuck after it was browned. It really enhanced the flavors of the meat.
  • I only did a small sprinkling of cheese. Graham doesn't like melted cheese, so I added just enough for me.
  • I wasn't paying attention when I consulted my cookbook for the last time, and I cooked it covered for the last ten minutes. I think everything turned out fine.
  • I served this with green beans almondine. The rice adds a starch, the ground chuck and cheese were our proteins, and we always like a vegetable with dinner. I think it worked fine, though next time I might steam some broccoli.

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