So, what are you planning to do with all of those delicious turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving? Sandwiches? Really? I like a good cold-turkey sandwich as much as anyone, but today I have a recipe that is a great alternative. And to be honest, even if you don’t have turkey leftovers you should make this dish. It’s wonderful, and so versatile that you can make it with turkey, chicken, ground beef or even just beans, for a vegetarian option.
You’ve probably noticed that I’m into making ‘bakes’ a lot this year. I’ve been having fun incorporating legumes, grains, and quinoa (technically a seed) into meals. Aside from being so easy to throw together, they’re incredibly satisfying and a healthy option. A big bowl of hot food is just what we all need as we gather around the dinner table together while it snows outside. This particular bake has a Mexican flare. I’ve made it a number of ways depending on what we have in the house. I’ve been challenging myself this year to make meals out of food that we have, rather than running to the store every time an idea enters my brain. Aside from a smaller grocery bill, it cuts down on wasting otherwise-usable food, so that makes me happy.
This dish is fabulous with shredded chicken or turkey, but it’s also equally tasty using ground beef (or shredded beef, if you happen to have that). Substituting beef broth for the chicken broth is an easy swap. Of course, going completely vegetarian is a no-brainer, too. Just add more beans and use vegetable broth, or even water. Just amp up the spices a bit more to compensate. Whatever protein you decide to use, it will pair wonderfully with the brown rice, corn, and beans.
You all know that I pretty much can all of my tomatoes that I need to get me through the winter. However, Red Gold Tomatoes generously sent me some different varieties of canned tomatoes to try (thanks, guys!). So, I incorporated them in this dish and they were fantastic! I used the the lime juice and cilantro variety. Of course, you can use any type of canned tomato that you have on hand, but these added a nice zesty flavor to the dish.
Load the bake up with as much cheese as you would like– that’s a personal preference. Before serving, squeeze on some fresh lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, slice up some jalapeños, and dollop on the sour cream. Serve it with tortilla chips or plain tortillas and you are set. You’re going to love this dish!
The Recipe: Mexican Bake
about 1 pound (or a bit more) of cooked shredded chicken, turkey, ground or shredded beef (see note)
1 small red or white onion, diced
about 4 garlic cloves, minced
about 14-15 ounces of cooked beans, drained and rinsed (any kind– red, black, pinto, or even white) (when I forget to soak my own, I’ve really been enjoying Simply Balanced Organic Beans (found at Target) for both the texture and the flavor.)
1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed (any type of rice will work–if wanting to use white, just note that the cooking time will decrease)
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons ground coriander
kosher salt and cracked pepper
about 1 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken or beef broth heated (depending upon what protein you are using)
1 15-ounce can Red Gold diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (or anything similar)
shredded cheese, 1-2 cups (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack are great options)
chopped fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeños, sour cream, fresh limes, hot sauce, tortilla chips, and/or fresh tortillas for serving
Note: If wanting to use shredded chicken, simply sauté one pound (or a bit more) of chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in a skillet with olive oil. They should take about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending upon how high your heat is. Check for doneness, then shred with a fork. Or use rotisserie!
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large Dutch oven add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until somewhat soft (you would brown the ground beef just prior to this, if using). Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, about 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and cracked pepper to the pan. Then add the canned tomatoes with juices, beans, rice, meat, corn, and heated broth and continue to cook for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until everything is hot.
Mix in the meat. Flatten everything with a spatula so the rice can cook properly in the liquids. Place in the preheated oven and bake covered for 1 hour. Remove from oven and add the cheese. Return to oven, covered, for about 5 more minutes, or until cheese has melted.
Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, hot sauce, tortilla chips and/or fresh tortillas. Enjoy!
I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving celebrating with your loved ones! Peace to all.