Well look-uh here, finishing up Skillet Week right on Earth Day… it’s almost like someone, you know, got their planning on!
I do find my skillet to be the most environmentally responsible tool that I have in my kitchen, mainly because it will last my lifetime and hopefully that of my cookin’ babies.
It also takes nothing more than natural oil and a clean, reusable cloth to maintain, and doesn’t emit anything other than delicious foodstuffs, unlike the toxic fumes that can be a byproduct of cooking with certain types of nonstick pots and pans.
So what better way to celebrate Earth Day tonight than by preparing a succulent cheese and rice casserole in your eco-friendly cast iron skillet? (Answer: there isn’t one.)
I love baked rice. I love preparing it, I love serving it, and I love eating it. This particular dish is no exception.
It’s the simple work of a gobton (technical term) of cooked rice, 3- 3- 3- (!!!) types of cheese, and some flavorful butter-fried sage.
If you’ve never tried frying sage before, your time has now come. In a matter of seconds the leaves turn from puppy-ear softness to crispened wafers that pack the herbaceous flavor of fresh sage along with the sweet cream flavor of the butter in which they were fried.
I don’t know how to explain it… I don’t really know what to say about it… you iz going to lurve it.
So happy Earth Day to you!
I will be celebrating our planet tonight with some Cheesy Sage Baked Skillet Rice, while skillet celebrates the completion of a week of hard work by lighting some candles and taking a nice, long bath in some seasoning oil. It was either that or a trip to Disney World so I’m going to look the other way on the candles.
Cheesy Sage Baked Skillet Rice
7 c. cooked medium grain rice (Note that a shorter grain rice works best in this casserole. You don’t need to use Arborio or any other short grain rice, and long or extra-long grain may be substituted in a pinch, but I prefer medium grain rice here.)
2 c. Oaxaca cheese, shredded (shredded mozzarella cheese may be substituted)
1 1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 c. green onion, diced
14 large sage leaves, minced
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sour cream
1 c. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
Chef’s Note: This recipe yields an extremely large casserole so you’ll need to use a skillet that is at least 10″ around.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Toss rice, Oaxaca cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese together in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat the butter in a 10″ ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over a medium flame. Add the green onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the sage and sauté for 2 minutes more. Season with salt and stir in the sour cream. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the rice and cheese mixture one cup at a time. Carefully smooth the top of the rice and cover with an even layer of the cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted through and the edges of the casserole are crisp and golden. You may choose to finish the casserole by placing it under a low broiler for 3-5 additional minutes to get the top extra-golden brown. Serve immediately.
YIELD: approximately 8 servings