Another Friday community lunch, another large dish to pass. Lucky for me, I had recently received a goodie box from the nice people over at Cabot Creamery and was thrilled to see the Garlic and Herb flavored cheddar cheese. The first couple of times I enjoyed it was simply with crackers and it was delicious! Many Friday’s, there is always a big dish of macaroni and cheese to pass. So knowing that the friend’s at the lunch enjoy pasta with cheese dishes, I decided to put a spin on it and prepare a cheesy rice dish. This recipe is loosely based on my recipe for Arroz Cremoso Poblano, a cheesy and creamy Mexican rice dish that everyone loves. This recipe yields a large baking, but you could certainly cut it in half for a smaller family. I have to say, it really is getting more difficult to share that delicious Cabot Cheese that arrives at my front door! #shareyourfood #payitforward #cabotcheese #CabotGardeners
Yields 10-12 Servings
Prep Time- 25 minutes
Cook Time- 1 hour, 5 minutes
4 strips of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled(reserve the grease)
2 cups jasmine rice
1 cup white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil, or 1 tablespoon fresh
Zest and juice of 1 lemon(reserve zest for bechamel sauce)
Salt to taste
For Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon
2/3 block Cabot Garlic and Herb Cheddar, grated. Reserve the other 1/3 for topping
1 full cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
1. Cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside and reserve the bacon grease. In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of bacon grease or olive oil to medium heat. Add the rice and spread out evenly. After a few minutes the rice will begin to toast and become aromatic. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add in all of the remaining ingredients for the rice in the order listed. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until all of the broth is absobed, about 20 minutes.
3, While the rice cooks, prepare the bechamel sauce.
In a separate skillet, at medium heat, add the butter. As soon as it melts, whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and broth until mostly smooth. Add the garlic, dijon mustard, hot sauce, white pepper and nutmeg. Cook at a low simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the garlic and herb cheese as well as the jack cheese until all melted and smooth. Stir in the mayonnaise and lemon zest to the sauce. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4. Fluff out the reserved rice, using a fork. Pour in the white sauce and stir well to combine. Transfer to a large baking dish. Fold in the crumbled bacon, top with remaining cheese and green onions. Bake covered for 30 to 35 minutes. If you like it more brown on top, you can place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Yields 10-12 servings.
Tips~You could prepare the recipe and build the casserole in smaller crocks for 2 serving portions.
Tips~ For extra tasty goodness, add a few fresh herbs on top with a little extra crumbled bacon.