Cooking for a family, while making family time

Leftover Rice Bake

Leftover Rice Bake

I love a few staple leftover friendly meals to keep dinners easy but interesting throughout the work week. This one came about with leftover Thanksgiving turkey a few years back. However, left over chicken can be used as well. The real star of this dish is the sauce, which uses mostly pantry ingreidents and besides your leftover poultry everything else you use is frozen. Can’t get much easier than that!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups leftover chicken or turkey meat
1 bag frozen rice or cauliflower rice (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen vegetable medley
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
S&P

Makes 6 servings.

 

Optional add on ingredients:

1/4-1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Drizzle of olive oil

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small sauce pot heat 2 tablespoons of your butter over medium high heat until melted. Add in your chopped onion, garlic and a healthy sprinkle of salt, sauté 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Next whisk in your flour and cook 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in your stock first, then milk. Add in Greek yogurt, paprika, 1/2 of your fresh thyme and pepper. Keep whisking while the sauce bubbles and thickens. Start with at least 5 minutes and longer if needed to reach desired consistency. I like to use the “back of the spoon” method, when the sauce sticks to the back of your spoon it’s done. In an 8×8 glass baking dish dump in your frozen veggies, rice and diced poultry. Now pour all that yummy sauce you just made over everything and stir until combined. Top with bread crumbs, remaining fresh thyme, drizzle of olive oil and remaining butter broken up. Cover with foil and into the oven it goes for 30 minutes. For a crunchier topping broil uncovered for the last 2 minutes.

 

To give you an idea here is a picture of everything all mixed together and then another pictures with the additional bread crumb topping.

        

I know given the ingredient list and the sauce instructions it might not sound like an easy weeknight meal, but it does come together quickly. Anyone new to making sauces, this is a great one to start with. It’s mild enough in flavor that it’s hard to mess up, and it will be an easy sell even to the pickiest eater. The key to a good roux is whisking. A roux is the base of your béchamel sauce, or white sauce. It’s equal parts butter and flour and a really great cooking basic to try and master. I’ve found you can fix just about anything with a good sauce! My tip for this one, play around with the flavors you add. Paprika and thyme not your thing? Go cumin and cilantro, to make it a Mexican dish. Same goes with the veggies you use, throw in the stuff you know your family already likes. By using cauliflower rice I am able to keep this Keto for my husband, however you can use frozen white or brown rice if you prefer. The real key here is just to make it easy on yourself to whip up a new dinner using leftover ingredients.

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