Let’s get things started right. I have been working on this dish for awhile, fine tuning it to my family’s taste and I think it is ready for prime time!  It is a true pantry/freezer meal, the only things in it that have to come out of the ‘fridge are the shredded cheese and the Lizano. Everything else can be stored in the pantry. It is composed of inexpensive food items so you can buy quality ingredients without breaking the bank – the only thing you need is time. And the time is mostly hands off time, so no biggie there.

Hardware:
First off, the hardware. I make this in my 2.8 Liter Oval Souffle dish with a glass lid. It really needs to be cooked in something fairly deep as opposed to one of those large rectangular casserole dishes. A medium Dutch Oven could work, as you can see in the picture the dish ends up being pretty thick so beware anything too shallow.

The Software:

1 can Black Beans, 15 oz
1 C Brown Rice, rinsed
1 C Frozen Corn
1 can Diced Tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 can Rotel, Mild, 10 oz
1 t Granulated Garlic
1 t Ground Cumin
1/2 t Dried Oregano
2 T Dried Chopped Onions
2 t Salt
Black Pepper to taste
1 1/2 T Lizano Sauce
1 1/2 C Water or Stock
1 t Olive Oil
Shredded Cheese, Cheddar or Queso (amount depends on the size of your container)

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Get a piece of heavy-duty foil ready that will cover the pot.

1) Combine tomatoes, Rotel, garlic, cumin, oregano, onions, salt, pepper, Lizano, and Water/Stock in a sauce pan over medium heat – the goal is to bring it to a boil. Take your cooking vessel and spray it with non-stick, measure your corn into the dish with the rinsed rice. Rinse beans gently and add to dish and drizzle with the olive oil, stir gently to combine.

2) Once the tomato mixture has come to a boil, pour into the dish and stir to combine. Cover tightly with the foil and top with lid.

3) Place in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove foil and stir gently to get the tomatoes distributed but pat the top back out smooth, taste to make sure the rice is done.
If the rice is undercooked replace foil and lid and cook until rice is done unless the rice is really “soupy” then do not cover.

4) When rice is done, sprinkle (ok cover) the surface of the rice with cheese of choice and return to oven uncovered. Remove from oven when cheese is nice and melty and bubbling, can take 5 minutes.

Ingredients/Potential Hacks:

Obviously the mystery ingredient here is the Lizano. If you poke around some of your Hispanic groceries you can find it, it is specifically Costa Rican and if you have a market that caters more to Central Americans than Mexicans you will have better luck.

I haven’t come up with a good substitution, it isn’t a tomatoey sauce but a savory sauce. Kind of like a Costa Rican version of HP sauce. It has Cumin and pureed veggies and odd stuff in it, but it is super tasty. It is worth it to have it in your ‘fridge and see what you can put it on.

Regarding the beans; I have measured a can of beans and it contains roughly 1 3/4 C of cooked beans. So if you wanted to use re-hydrated dried beans that is what you would be aiming for, but I don’t think that simply soaking and then tossing in would work. They would need to be cooked beans.

You can definitely up the heat on this if you wanted to by buying one of the hotter versions of Rotel I am a big ole sissy so I use mild. You could even add some jalapenos if you wanted to be wacky. Another fun variation can be had if you have a Trader Joe’s handy. They sell a frozen “fire roasted” corn that gives a lovely smoky flavor to this dish when you use it in place of plain ole corn.

If you really  wanted to, you could use white rice – but we like it much better with brown. You wouldn’t have to boil the liquid ahead of time and you would use less water/chicken stock – 1 cup should do it. Also your cooking time would most likely be shorter, maybe 45 min to 1 hr. If you try this out please let me know what your cooking time was.

Enjoy!

At the end, this seems like an awful lot of writing for what is really a simple dish. The process is really one step away from “dump it in the casserole and bake” but I wanted to add in all of the little details that have made this a sucessful meal for my family. We eat on the leftovers for days, it reheats in the microwave beautifully and makes a tasty lunch.

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