Cooking Without Recipes: Turkey-Rice-Cheese Casserole

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A narrative non-recipe from 2010.

I felt uninspired for dinner yesterday, which is not a good thing when all you have in the house is ingredients, yet not all the ingredients necessary for recipes. Of course, I don’t follow recipes to begin with, so it bodes ill when inspiration is low. Yet, this lack of inspiration and decision to just toss together what I had without trying to dress it up yielded a very satisfying dinner. No longer will I search for a recipe for a turkey or chicken rice and broccoli casserole.

Now I know I can just toss one together with minimal ingredients that was better than any I’ve tried to make from a recipe.

Ingredients that don't match a recipe are no problem when you're fearless. What can you toss together to make dinner fast, easy, and delicious tonight?

Method in the Madness

In the fridge I had turkey meat cut off the carcass, bone broth made from the turkey carcass, milk, and cheese. In the freezer I had a package of frozen broccoli. I had onions and garlic, but I had no other vegetables (except cabbage and spinach for salads). I could have made a white sauce to substitute for a cream-of-something-soup to bind my meat and rice and broccoli, but I felt like I couldn’t be trusted with that process in my mental state.

So, I simply cooked 2 1/2 cups of brown rice in 2 cups broth and 2 cups water. When that was almost done, I tossed the turkey meat (about 5-6 cups) into a large skillet, then scooped in 1 or 2 cups of broth and simmered it until the broth was reduced and the meat was shredding itself (i.e. I didn’t bother cutting the meat to bite-size chunks and I tossed the stuff on the heat and then checked my email — no, I meant for the broth to reduce, I really did). None of the herbs jumped out at me, so I shook some salt and pepper over it.

Then I dumped in the entire package of cut broccoli spears and dumped the cooked rice on top. I tossed it around to combine it and let the liquid cook down until it was mostly gone, then cast about for something to top it off. Cheese! Cheese to the rescue! I tossed in several handfuls of shredded cheddar and a couple handfuls of shredded Parmesan. I then mixed it around a bit instead of leaving the cheese as a topping, so the melting cheese became the binding “sauce.” It was lovely. And it was tasty. And I put half of it in a casserole dish and froze it, and everyone gobbled up the half I served.

I will be making that again.

Ingredients that don't match a recipe are no problem when you're fearless. What can you toss together to make dinner fast, easy, and delicious tonight?

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