With the at-home situation being what it is these days, my spouse and I have got into the habit of playing online games on Sunday afternoons with our friends; it keeps our social tank from emptying too quickly and we enjoy the creative outlet. However, we start fairly early in the evening, so Sunday dinners have lately been somewhat chaotic and odd affairs, where they are served very early, very late so that we are eating during the game, or not at all.
One of the dinner solutions I have been trying to institute recently to combat this Sunday Dinner Concern is to make a casserole of some kind so that it can be ready to eat right around the time our game starts, but also be able to be kept warm in case we weren’t ready to eat at the early time. And of course, with plenty of leftovers for the Monday so I don’t have to cook!
I came up with this casserole dinner idea to satisfy some criteria that I had in my head: 1) my own need to make a casserole since I hadn’t made one in a while, 2) the casserole had to use a protein and a carbohydrate that my husband hasn’t eaten in the last 2 days, and 3) no ingredient “cheat” like a canned cream soup in its assembly. I’m not knocking those cooks who use cream of chicken/mushroom/celery etc. soups as a base for their meals, but today I wanted to make something more natural, to show that it can be done without the Cream Soup Crutch.
No recipes I could find online really fit the bill (and believe me, I went through a LOT of recipes), so I ended up developing this using elements of three different recipes, plus my own common sense, experience and preferences. Once I created the recipe, it really was a simple “toss n’ go” method, and I had this in the oven in less than 10 minutes.
For full disclosure, in my version (pics below) I used a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 2½ cups of hot water, white basmati rice (this would be fab with a wild rice blend!), semi-defrosted boneless pork chops, and a mixture of frozen corn and peas plus a handful of other fresh veggies (carrots, celery, green onion, and red/yellow bell pepper) that I pulled out of my salad, haha! This dish is probably fine without the cheese if you’re not a fan, which is really only here to add some extra flavour to the rice.
One-Dish Cheesy Pork Chop and Rice Casserole
YIELD: 4 servings | PREP: 10 mins | BAKE: 75-80 mins
- 2½ cups/600mL low-sodium chicken broth, room temp
- 1½ cups/280g raw white rice (can replace with brown rice or a rice blend)
- ½ cup/125mL milk (dairy free is fine)
- 1 tbsp/15mL cornstarch, mixed into 1 tbsp cold milk or water
- 3 tbsp/45mL butter or DF butter alternative, melted
- 1 cup/100g shredded Cheddar cheese (can replace with another preferred cheese or omit for DF)
- 1 cup/180-200g frozen mixed vegetables of choice (onion, celery, carrots, green peas, cut green or waxed beans, chopped spinach or cabbage, corn, diced broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, etc.)
- 1 tsp/5mL dried minced onion
- ½ tsp/2.5mL each of the following: paprika (sweet or smoked), lemon pepper, garlic powder
- 4 boneless pork chops
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish with butter or pan spray.
- Combine chicken broth, rice, milk, cornstarch, and melted butter together in the prepared casserole dish; add shredded cheese, frozen vegetables and seasonings and mix well.
- Place pork chops into the rice mixture in a single layer; season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Place casserole dish on a tray in case of overspill, and place in oven with lid or foil covering for 40 minutes; check rice for doneness and liquid level at this point, and remove lid for remainder of cooking time.
- Bake about 75-80 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid has all been evaporated, and the pork chops have an internal temperature of 145°F/63°C.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.