Mexican-Spiced Beef & Rice Casserole with Crispy Tortilla Strips

Mexican-Spiced Beef & Rice Casserole

with Crispy Tortilla Strips

50 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

This casserole—inspired by a famous Tex-Mex “pie” of chili, cheese and corn chips—starts with a layer of lime rice, followed by spicy, saucy beef and beans. (Placing the rice at the bottom helps it stay moist while baking.) After a sprinkling of sharp cheddar, the casserole is ready for the oven, where all of its rich, satisfying flavors come together. As for our chips, we’re oven-toasting corn tortilla strips separately for perfect crispiness.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    800 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the lime. Peel and mince the garlic. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice on an angle, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Drain and rinse the beans. Grate the cheese. Stack the tortillas, then cut into ½-inch-wide strips.

Cook the rice:
2 Cook the rice:

In a medium pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt and 2 cups of water; heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook 12 to 14 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of 2 lime wedges. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the beef & beans:
3 Cook the beef & beans:

While the rice cooks, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground beef, garlic and white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Add the tomato paste, beans and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste is dark red and fragrant. Add ¼ cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the water has cooked off. Turn off the heat. Stir in the juice of the remaining lime wedges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble & bake the casserole:
4 Assemble & bake the casserole:

Transfer the cooked rice to a baking dish; spread into an even layer. Evenly top with the cooked beef and beans, then the cheese. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving.

Toast the tortilla strips:
5 Toast the tortilla strips:

While the casserole bakes, place the tortilla strips on a sheet pan. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer. Toast in the oven 7 to 9 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven.

Serve your dish:
6 Serve your dish:

When cool enough to handle, garnish the baked casserole with the toasted tortilla strips and green tops of the scallions. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the lime. Peel and mince the garlic. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice on an angle, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Drain and rinse the beans. Grate the cheese. Stack the tortillas, then cut into ½-inch-wide strips.

2 Cook the rice:

In a medium pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt and 2 cups of water; heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook 12 to 14 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of 2 lime wedges. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the rice:
Cook the beef & beans:
3 Cook the beef & beans:

While the rice cooks, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground beef, garlic and white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Add the tomato paste, beans and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste is dark red and fragrant. Add ¼ cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the water has cooked off. Turn off the heat. Stir in the juice of the remaining lime wedges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 Assemble & bake the casserole:

Transfer the cooked rice to a baking dish; spread into an even layer. Evenly top with the cooked beef and beans, then the cheese. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving.

Assemble & bake the casserole:
Toast the tortilla strips:
5 Toast the tortilla strips:

While the casserole bakes, place the tortilla strips on a sheet pan. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer. Toast in the oven 7 to 9 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven.

6 Serve your dish:

When cool enough to handle, garnish the baked casserole with the toasted tortilla strips and green tops of the scallions. Enjoy!

Serve your dish:
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