Rice is a tricky business. Typically you simmer it on the stovetop with about twice as much water as rice. Don’t cook it too hot, though, or it might burn and you’ll end up with a hard rice ring around the bottom of your pot and you may or may not be able to salvage it. Oh, and don’t stir it with a spoon! Nay nay, fluff the rice. Fluff it with a fork.
I’ve made a few messes with rice. I’m always worried about burning the bottom, or I think it’s ready and it turns out the water didn’t absorb completely. This rice recipe, though, takes out the guesswork. Put the rice in a baking dish. Add the water and some other stuff. Cover and bake. Done. No watching to make sure the airholes form. No worrying about the crust around the edge. None of that. Just perfect rice.
Wild rice is kind of an enigma, no? I never thought of it as anything odd growing up because my grandmother cooked it all the time, usually with bone-in chicken breasts baked on top. It was just a normal ingredient to me and it wasn’t until years later when I decided to cook it myself that it became a little strange to me. I was surprised at how difficult it was to find….and the fact that just a box or bag of wild rice was next to impossible to find; it’s generally found in some sort of blend.
In case you didn’t know, wild rice isn’t actually rice. It’s a grain harvested from a grass. It’s pretty expensive too…I don’t remember exactly how much I paid the last time I bought it in bulk but I want to say the price was something like $9 a pound. Anyway, at that price I can’t really afford to make a meal out of straight-up wild rice so going for a blend is logical.
Like I said before, most of my wild rice memories from childhood involve a bed of wild rice (probably actually white and wild rice) with some other stuff (celery? cream of chicken soup? it’s been a long time) baked into it and chicken baked on top. However, in my grandmother’s orange recipe organizer the only wild rice recipe I can find is for a chicken and wild rice casserole. Okay.
This mushroom and rice casserole isn’t a vegetarian spin-off of that casserole (which, by the way, I have made) but rather what happens when I have brown and wild rice and some leftover portobellos in stock. Make a roux, add a Swiss cheese, you get a cheesy mushroom and wild rice casserole and everyone’s happy. It makes great leftovers too, and I promise you the baked rice recipe will change the way you look at rice. Forever and ever amen.
For a vegetarian meal that will make you warm, full, and happy, try this cheesy mushroom and wild rice casserole!
Yield: 4 servings
25 minPrep Time:
2 hrCook Time:
2 hr, 25 Total Time:
- 1 1/2 cup short or medium grain brown rice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
- 1 Recipe brown and wild rice blend (baked according to previous recipe-the wild rice bakes fine according to this recipe.)
- 4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
- 1 Small onion (diced)
- 8oz mushrooms, any variety (sliced or quartered)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium (chicken broth)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4oz Swiss cheese (grated)
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 15 saltine crackers (optional)
- To bake the rice: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the rice in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil in a saucepan or in the microwave. Pour over the rice in the baking dish and stir to combine. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
- To make the casserole: reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion in the butter until soft and beginning to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt. Add the flour and whisk until incorporated; cook for about a minute.
- Gradually add the chicken broth then the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened then add the cheese, stirring until completely incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the rice and the creamy mushroom mixture in a large bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch baking dish (I just use the one in which I cooked the rice). If desired, crumble saltine crackers over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, checking from time to time to make sure the cracker crumbs aren't burning. If they start to burn, cover the pan with foil. Serve.
Cook time includes time to bake rice. To reduce cook time, make the rice ahead of time. You can use the baked rice method with other varieties of rice but you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. White varieties do not typically take as long to cook as brown varieties.