Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole with Monterey Jack Cheese & Lacinato Kale

Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

with Monterey Jack Cheese & Lacinato Kale

40 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

As the weather cools down, our minds turn to comforting, hot casseroles. We’re making this one Mexican-style, with chicken, rice, black beans, cilantro and authentic spices. To shake things up, we’re also adding beautiful, Italian-variety kale to the mix, and topping the casserole with shredded Monterey Jack (a mild American cheese). In the oven, the cheese melts down to a wonderfully crispy crust—while beneath, the vibrant flavors of the filling come together deliciously. Dig in, chefs!

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    690 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole with Monterey Jack Cheese & Lacinato Kale
Title
time-saving
tips & techniques
Cook the rice:
1 Cook the rice:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a medium pot, combine the rice, 2½ cups of water and a big pinch of salt. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Prepare the ingredients:
2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the rice cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Remove and discard the kale stems; roughly chop the leaves. Drain and rinse the beans. Thinly slice the cilantro leaves and stems.

Start the filling:
3 Start the filling:

In a large, high-sided pan (or pot), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the ground chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Add the vegetables:
4 Add the vegetables:

Add the diced tomatoes, kale, beans and ½ cup of water to the pan of chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the liquid has thickened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the pot of cooked rice.

Finish the filling & assemble the casserole:
5 Finish the filling & assemble the casserole:

To the pot of cooked rice, chicken and vegetables, add the crema, ¼ of the cheese and all but a pinch of the cilantro. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. Evenly top with the remaining cheese.

Bake the casserole & serve your dish:
6 Bake the casserole & serve your dish:

Place the casserole in the oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

Cook the rice:
1 Cook the rice:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a medium pot, combine the rice, 2½ cups of water and a big pinch of salt. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the rice cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Remove and discard the kale stems; roughly chop the leaves. Drain and rinse the beans. Thinly slice the cilantro leaves and stems.

Start the filling:
3 Start the filling:

In a large, high-sided pan (or pot), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the ground chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.

4 Add the vegetables:

Add the diced tomatoes, kale, beans and ½ cup of water to the pan of chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the liquid has thickened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the pot of cooked rice.

Add the vegetables:
Finish the filling & assemble the casserole:
5 Finish the filling & assemble the casserole:

To the pot of cooked rice, chicken and vegetables, add the crema, ¼ of the cheese and all but a pinch of the cilantro. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. Evenly top with the remaining cheese.

6 Bake the casserole & serve your dish:

Place the casserole in the oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Enjoy!

Bake the casserole & serve your dish:
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