Anna Mintz is a Senior Publicist for Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, and is an editor for The Recipe Club. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in New York City and loves exploring NYC’s restaurant scene and trying out new recipes in her own kitchen.
I have a small studio apartment, so when I had 4 friends over for dinner last week, I wanted to pick a main dish that could be made ahead of time and minimize the kitchen chaos in my small space. I thought a casserole would be the perfect choice — and this one in particular, from The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, August 2013) by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock, was simple, flavorful, and easy to put together.
It’s literally just mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl, putting that mixture into a casserole dish, and baking! The first steps were to grate the Monterey Jack cheese and to shred the chicken. Rather than roasting my own chicken, I made it even easier on myself and bought a rotisserie chicken from my local grocery store.
One thing to note is that this recipe calls for a crispy corn chip topping. If you choose to make this dish ahead of time, wait to add the chips until right before baking, instead of putting it on before freezing. Corn chips tend to get soggy when frozen, and you’ll miss out on the delightful crunch.
I served the casserole to my dinner guests with a simple summer salad of spinach, goat cheese, pecans, and fresh peaches. It was the perfect meal for my group, and everyone was clamoring for seconds, so do yourself a favor and go ahead and double up the recipe so you can have leftovers for dinner the rest of the week!
Monterey Chicken and Rice Casserole
Recipe from The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3-pound) roasted chicken, boned and shredded
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, or 1 1/2cups homemade
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup corn chips, coarsely crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese until smooth. Add the chicken, rice, cheese, chilies, soup, salt, and pepper. Mix well and pour into the prepared casserole dish.
3. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the corn chips. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.
Here are some more great recipes from The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook: