Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

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I continued my search for casseroles that are easy and delicious. I wanted something with a little Asian influence so when I came across Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole from the Food Network, I was pleased. It looked easy to make and promising enough. Alas, this casserole became my nemesis. The first two attempts were complete failures, but I was determined to get it right. The third time was a charm and I’m here to give you my version of this dish. It’s really simple once you figure out that you need to layer, not “evenly scatter” the ingredients, add enough liquid, and cook it long enough. I have no idea how the original could ever work.

Gather your ingredients: rice, veggies, chicken., light coconut milk, broth, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime, peanuts, and cilantro. I stuck to the same ingredients that were in the recipe. Nothing to change there.

In a casserole pan, add a layer of rice. The original recipe wants you to mix the rice with the veggies and chicken, but this was a bad idea and caused failures to attempts #1 and #2. Who likes crunchy rice? Not me. You need the rice completely submerged in the liquid so it’ll cook.

Next, slice up your peppers and onions. Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. Layer over your rice. Do not mix it!

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Slice your chicken. I like to slice the chicken last to avoid cross contamination with the veggies. It probably doesn’t matter in this case because we’re cooking the veggies, but it’s a habit I like to practice.

Layer your chicken over the veggies. Do not mix it! (Note my general theme.)

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Looks good. Now you need your liquid that will cook the rice. In my first attempt, I used the amounts listed in the recipe. It turned out not to be enough liquid so after 50 minutes, I kept adding cups of water every 10 minutes while I tried to wash the rice off the veggies and chicken to get the rice to cook. After 80 minutes, it was edible enough to eat, but I was extremely disappointed. I hate when dinner is late and we were all very hangry at this point.

In my second attempt, I used more broth, but because I followed the recipe and mixed the ingredients, once again I was smushing the rice down after it had been cooking for 50 minutes to get the rice to cook properly. I almost had crunchy rice on my hands, but I managed to rescue it.

Still frustrated but confident that my third attempt would work, I mixed the wet ingredients and poured it over the casserole. I checked that the rice was fully submerged. It was. I was good to go! I popped it in the oven and prayed to the cooking gods that all would go well. Meanwhile, I chopped up some salted peanuts and fresh cilantro for a garnish. I had plenty of time while the casserole cooked so I sneaked in a couple of episodes of HGTV while making the boy’s lunch.

I checked on the casserole after 45 minutes. Not ready so I continued to babysit it, checking the rice every five minutes. After 60 minutes, it was done! I cautiously took a bite of rice. Delicious. I could taste the spice of the curry paste, the saltiness of the fish sauce, the sweetness of the brown sugar, and the acidity of the lime. The flavors were perfect and so were the veggies, cooked yet still firm. Adding the peanuts added an extra crunch and reminded me of pad Thai.

With my changes, I completely recommend this casserole. Did I mention not to mix the rice?

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole
Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 medium red pepper sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion sliced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 14 ounces canned light coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
  • Add a layer of rice to the bottom of the pan. Evenly scatter a layer of broccoli, red pepper, and onion. Top with chicken slices. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the pan, making sure the lquid covers the rice. Bake until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed, 60 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cilantro before serving.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

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Where do I begin? Recently, one particular boy says I never make casseroles. He’s right, but I was surprised because casseroles are sort of old school. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I started searching for an easy casserole recipe when I stumbled on this one from the Kitchn. Easy it is, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. This casserole is more of a stew that I ended up serving over rice, not something the original recipe suggests to do. In the end, I think that I’ll need to make a real casserole another day. In the meantime, you’ll enjoy this meal because it’s really easy to prepare, makes plenty of leftovers, and tastes even better the next day.

I changed a few things. I cooked my own chicken thighs and chopped them up rather than buy a rotisserie chicken to shred. I also dumped everything into the casserole pan rather than use a bowl. Saves you from washing yet another item.

Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and cook it up in a heated skillet for about 6 minutes each side. Set it aside and let it cool before you chop it up into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want to burn your hands. In the meantime, dump chopped onion, black beans, canned corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles in your casserole pan. Throw in a bunch of seasonings: chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and salt. Chop up your cooled chicken and add it to the pan.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Mix it all up and pour a cup of chicken broth over it. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes until it’s thickened. Yeah, right. This is where the recipe went south. It NEVER thickened. Not even a bit. I suppose the idea was for the liquid to condense, but that didn’t happen. Once I realized this, I quickly made some rice. You can get these quick rice packages that cook in 2 minutes in the microwave. It’s not instant rice! You’re just heating up fully cooked rice. I always have a few on hand for times like these.

While zapping your rice in the microwave, sprinkle a ton of shredded cheese and stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes (not the 10 minutes the recipe states). Let it cool for 15 minutes. Maybe now it’ll thicken? Nope. I think it’s so you don’t burn your tongue.

Serve it over rice garnished with green onions and cilantro.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Not what I expected and frankly, I was disappointed. This wasn’t a casserole at all. It’s a stew! It tasted good, but not fantastic. Whatever. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste so I covered the pan with foil and stuck it in the fridge for another day.

The next day we had salmon for dinner, but the day after that, I pulled out the “casserole” and exclaimed that it was leftovers night. And guess what? It tasted amazing. The flavors infused into something quite special, almost like enchiladas. Not sure if it’s a make again for us, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 large white onion diced
  • 14.5 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces canned corn kernels drained
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425F.
  • In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in the skillet for about 6 minutes on each side, until it's browned and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish add white onion, black beans, corn kernels, diced tomatoes and their juices, and diced green chiles (do not drain). Next add chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, and kosher salt.
  • Chop cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the baking dish. Stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth.
  • Bake until the mixture is heated through, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice scallions and coarsely chop fresh cilantro.
  • Sprinkle the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro before serving. Serve over rice.