Sunday, January 1, 2012

Company Rice Casserole

First of all, Happy New Year!  Though my New Year's Eve wasn't spent the way I wanted, or the way I spent the last two, it was a happy time with family and I have nothing but hope for 2012 :)


You know how there are some foods that are really tasty but photograph really badly?

Well, this is one of them.

This is a variation on a casserole I grew up eating.  It was a basic combination of white rice, cream of mushroom soup and turkey sausage covered with melty cheese.  My mom had long since swapped out the cream of salt soup for a medium-thick white sauce, and this time around my dad and I decided to healthify (spellcheck is telling me that's not a word...I don't care) it even further.  I changed the white rice for brown, thawed some peas, sauteed up some mushrooms with the turkey sausage, and voil√†! 

The method of assembly had to change with the ingredients, though.  The white rice would usually cook in the oven with the white sauce and some extra water.  Swapping in brown rice would've made that process longer and considerably more interesting, so my dad suggested just pre-cooking the rice.  Sold!  Once all the separate parts were done, we stirred them all together, topped them with some cheese, and stuck the dish in the oven to warm up.

The results of our health experiment: delicious.
Next time I want to try a variation on a theme: sub in some Italian spiced turkey sausage and use mozzarella on the top!  Maybe even some parmesan in the white for thought!

If you need a relatively quick and healthy meal, give this a shot.  Bonus: plenty of leftovers!  Just...forgive it for not being pretty...

Company Rice Casserole
Source: modified from a family recipe

1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice, such as basmati
_ oz turkey sausage
1 tbsp salted butter
4 oz cremini or white button mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 cup frozen petite peas, run under cold water to thaw
3 tbsp margarine (preferably trans-fat free)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.  Set aside.
In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up into pieces.  Remove it and set aside.  Add the butter to the skillet, allow it to melt, then add the mushrooms and saute until browned and reduced in size - cook as much liquid off as possible.  Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.
To make the white sauce, melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and salt and stir together quickly till yellowish clumps form (appetizing, I know).  Add the milk, whisking vigorously to combine and break up any lumps.  Switch to a wooden spoon and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened quite a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Pour the rice, sausage, mushrooms, and thawed peas into a medium-large casserole dish.  Pour the white sauce over the top and stir to combine thoroughly.  You may need to add another splash of milk to coat everything.  Place the casserole in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.  Pull the dish out of the oven and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.  Put the casserole back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve and enjoy!

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