Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cheesy Shrimp and Rice Casserole

Oh's been a few days (12 and counting) since my last post.  But I must say...between the ham I made for Christmas, and roasting my first turkey a few days later, I didn't have to cook for days.  We had plenty of meat in the fridge.  We finished the ham, and even after 3 days of turkey, we had enough left to make a simple turkey pot pie using the rest of the turkey gravy as well.  Rebecca was in seriously mourning when we ran out of mashed potatoes...bless her heart! 

After all that...the hubby went back to work...and life got BUSY again.  But I hope you missed me.  In the meantime...I've been tweaking the settings, and uploading things on my new, PURPLE laptop, so I finally feel like I have time to post a recipe. 

Anyway, I was rummaging around in the deep freezer and came across 4 pounds of beautiful shrimp, and though it would a nice change from all the meat. 

So I made this casserole...1/2 the kids liked it (meaning the older two), and the 2 younger kids wouldn't touch it.  Oh well...David had seconds, and took more to work, so I was satisfied.  I'd made something simillar many years ago using a prepackaged rice mix, and didn't care for it because it was so salty!  Now I take the time and use plain, regular rice...and it turns out so much me!  If you'd like, brown rice can be substitued for white...just keep in mind it takes 2x as long to cook, so allow extra preparation time.

Cheesy Shrimp and Rice Casserole

2 pounds unpeeled, medium/large shrimp (I used 16-20 count)
2 cups white/brown rice
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium green peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 can (10.75 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10.75) ounces cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups panko/bread crumbs
salt and black pepper to taste

We're going to cook the shrimp first.  Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Once the water is boiling, add the shrimp (do not peel beforehand!), and cook for 2 minutes.  We don't want the shrimp cooked through...they will finished cooking in the oven later.  Overdone shrimp taste like rubber...we don't want that! 

Drain the shrimp immediately to a ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Peel, devein, and set aside.  Since my shrimp were big, I cut them into thirds.  If you look closely, you can see the shrimp are just a bit raw in the middle. 

I like everything in a casserole to be the same makes a nicer presentation, and saves us from cutting the kids' food at the table. 

Now, this is important...SAVE the water you cooked the shrimp in.  It'll still be about 4 cups. 

This stock will give the rice a nice flavor...more so than using plain water.  If you are pressed for time, you can skip this step...but I really think you'll become a believer if you make and reserve the stock. :-)

Now bring the stock back up to a boil, salt to taste, and add the rice.  Cook according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time 1-2 minutes.  You want the rice to be just a little wet, so it will mix into the casserole better, and not be overcooked by the time it's all done.  Still with me?  Good!

On to the rest of the dish!  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter...

add the garlic, peppers (from the garden, hence all the pretty colors), and onions, along with the dried thyme and Old Bay.  (I confess, when I found the shrimp, I saw some frozen leeks I'd put up from the garden last year, and used them instead).

Season with a little salt and pepper, and saute for 5-6 minutes until crisp-tender, ...remember we're finishing this in the oven, so we don't need to cook the veggies very long. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Once the rice is done, add the vegetables to the pot, along with the shrimp...

the canned soup (I only got a picture of the cream of mushroom, the other can chickened out...but I got him in there ;-)...

and the cheese.  I love cheese!

Give the pot a good stir, then spread evenly into a greased 9x13 casserole pan.  Oh, and for good measure...sprinkle a little more cheese over the top.  It can't hurt, right?

In a small, microwave-safe bowl (I nearly always use a pyrex measuring cup), melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Stir in the panko/bread crumbs until well coated. 

Spread the buttered crumbs over the top of the casserole, and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until you see the edges bubbling.  You can broil it for just a couple of minutes to brown the top to your liking...but don't leave the kitchen or you'll burn it!

Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Here's a close-up...divine isn't it?

As I've said already, not everyone in our house ate this, but those of us who did though it was great...creamy, cheesy rice with tender shrimp...perfect for a cold winter's night.  And to all of my Catholic readers out there...don't forget to bookmark this post so you can make it during Lent.  It's coming up soon!

Enjoy...and God bless your table tonight!

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