Sunday, February 26, 2012

Make it from scratch Monday: Beef and Rice casserole (in Pyrex!)

I have a very large collection of vintage cookbooks. I just can't resist them, especially ones from Better Homes and Gardens from the 1950s and 60s. While they may not exactly be current and hip for the foodie in me, I love the basic ingredients and easy preparations. And usually, for a weeknight meal, that's all I want in a recipe!

It doesn't hurt that some of the recipes are just fun/weird to look at and imagine- many of these books were the source for James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food. But there are definitely gems in there if you can get past the aspic. This recipe is from BH&G's Hamburger and Ground Meats Cookbook.

Of course, just about everyone has ground beef (in our case, ground venison) in their freezer and rice in their pantry, so I found this recipe that uses those ingredients. It was OK- came together quickly, didn't require anything fancy- but if I make it again, I will alter it slightly to add some more depth of flavor.

And since I will be sharing this blog post with the folks over at the Pyrex Collective III, I thought it was a good opportunity to break out some of the Pyrex casserole dishes! Everything tastes better in Pyrex!

Cheesy Beef-Rice Bake

1 lb. ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. uncooked rice
2 T. butter
3 c. water
1 c. shredded carrot
2 t. beef bouillion
1 t. parsley (dried or fresh, chopped)
1/2 t. onion flakes or powder
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 c. shredded cheese

In large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat (not necessary if you are using super-lean ground venison!). Remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, melt butter and brown uncooked rice, stirring frequently until golden brown. As an aside, this is one of my favorite preparations, and a big reason I chose this recipe- the rice gets a nice nutty flavor before cooking.

Stir in water, bouillion, carrot and spices. 
I do not like dried bouillion cubes, so I used concentrated stock. You could also use 2 c. regular liquid beef stock or broth, just eliminate an equal amount of water. At this point, to improve the flavor, I would also add a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and eliminate another 2/3 cup water.

Bring to boiling, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

 Stir in browned meat.

Get your Pyrex ready! 

The recipe specifically calls for a 1 1/2 qt. casserole, so I thought that my 1 1/2 qt. Butterprint  fridgie would be perfect. Wrong. I filled it with about 1/3 of the mixture still left in the pan, so I had to get out a second casserole dish. My 2 qt. turquoise Starburst promo dish was begging for the job, and probably would have been big enough for the whole lot, but I divided it between the two dishes so no one's feelings were hurt.

Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (I used a mixture of jack and cheddar) and bake, uncovered, about 5 more minutes.

The verdict- everything tastes better in Pyrex, and even more so in a rarely used promotional piece! Thank goodness, because this dish was bland, bland, bland. I was kind of hoping it would be more like a cheeseburger casserole, but it wasn't. I would definitely add a can of diced tomatoes/green chiles to the mix to give it a bit more zing. I think with that addition it would be pretty good. But it was easy and required only the one frying pan, so that wasn't bad!


  1. You're right, I have that same promotional star burst pyrex and things do taste better in it!


  2. I love trying recipes from vintage cookbooks - some are winners, some are losers, some are just plain mediocre. Most of the fun for me is using vintage kitchenware ;)

    And what a swell Pyrex casserole dish that is!

  3. Oh, I should have taken a photo of my Party Pasta Bowl dish, I cooked it tonight in my pink pyrex extra large casserole dish.

  4. I had never seen the Gallery of Regrettable Food before. It's too funny!