Post #574 That Rice Dish

June 3, 2018 at 11:46 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As you undoubtedly know, I’m constantly on the lookout for quick and easy and inexpensive meals.  We don’t like eating leftovers immediately in our house (unless it’s cold pizza) so I watch for ways to use up things that I haven’t used up completely.  The ideas and recipes and suggestions come from everywhere.  I get ideas from novels I’m reading (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn gave me several idea for things from stale bread), from television shows (Think America’s Test Kitchen, or Ciao Italia with Lidia Bastianich), from movies (Julie and Julia most recently), and magazines.  Plus, I’m constantly talking to people about food, and cooking, and ingredients.  I want to know what my neighbors are making that smells so good.  I want to know what the wonderful aroma is as I’m walking around the back streets of Paris.  I want to know how to make that loaf of bread that tastes so good from the farmer’s market.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to the young girl who sits behind me at work about food.  Things were slow and we had time and she mentioned a  particular rice dish her grandma makes, that she’s adapted to her own tastes.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  We love rice at our house.  I can talk for hours about the different types and flavors rice has.

Her:  Yeah, we use a lot of rice too.  My grandma makes a great rice dish.

M:  Oh!  Wanna share that?

H:  It’s really simple.  It’s just layers of rice and hamburger with cheese on top.

M:  I assume it’s cooked rice, right?

H: (nodding) Yes, whatever leftover rice you have.  Nothing more than a day old, though.  It gets pretty gnarly otherwise.

M:  You cook the hamburger first?

H:  Yeah, I just sauté it with onions and garlic till it’s cooked through, and drain all the fats out of it.  Then I put in about three tablespoons of tomato paste and half a cup of tomato sauce.  I cook that till its bubbly and add frozen vegetables.

M:  So, what, you layer it like a lasagna?  Rice, burger, cheese, rice burger cheese?

H:  Sort of.  You spray a baking dish with vegetable spray, then put a layer of rice down.  Make the bottom layer a little thicker than the others.  Then put a layer of the hamburger and veggies, then more rice, etc. till the dish is full or you run out of stuff.  Then top it with a pound of mixed cheese.  My grandma puts ham pieces in the cheese too.  Bake it slow until the cheese turns brown and melts into the rice.  It’s really good.  I leave the ham out of it, though.  It’s too salty.

M:  You could substitute bacon bits for the ham.  That’d be good.  So it’s like a cheesy casserole, then.

H:  It’s got a Portuguese name.  Roughly translates to Something Hidden, you know, cuz the layer of cheese hides the rice and meat underneath.

M:  (nodding) sounds really good.  Are there traditional veggies you use?

H:  No, just whatever is at hand.  It’s a way to use up leftovers.  I use broccoli, or whatever frozen mix I’ve got.

M:  Any spices or seasonings you use?

H:  Just a little salt and pepper in the burger.  Grandma uses pepper flakes, but that gets a little too hot sometimes.

M:  Maybe chili powder to give it a kick.  Or pepper jack cheese?

H:  (smiling and nodding)  That sounds like it would be good.

M:  I think I’d just call it That Rice Dish.

So, that’s why I like talking to people about food.  Here’s the “recipe” as near as I’ve put together.  Haven’t tried this one yet, but I will soon.

That Rice Dish

  • 2-3 cups cooked rice, cooled
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, or water, or beef broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (less or omit if too hot)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked vegetable, cooled and chopped small
  • 3 cups shredded mixed cheeses, mix of sharp and mild, tasty cheeses, Pepper Jack will add extra kick

Heat oven to 325.  Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish lightly with vegetable spray.  Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until beef is no longer pink.  Drain well and return to heat.  Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, cumin, and chili powder and mix well.  Stir in the chopped vegetables.  Cook until bubbly, then removed from heat.  Layer 1/3 of the rice in the bottom of the dish, then half the meat mixture.  Spread another layer of rice, and the rest of the meat mixture.  Top with the final layer of rice.  Spread all the cheese evenly over the top.  Cover with foil and cook in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and leave in oven until cheese turns golden and bubbly.  Remove and cool for ten minutes, then serve hot.  This recipe is meant to use up leftover, so play around with the cheeses and veggies to get whatever flavor combo you like.  You can also play with the meat mixture.  Leftover chicken would be good.  Or left over roast.

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Side Comment:  I’ve never actually state this before, but if you ever want to share one of these posts, please feel free.  I don’t mind in the slightest.

 

 

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