Southern Comfort To The Rescue

This would have made a great video, but I still don’t have a voice and am battling this cold, so a lengthy post will have to do. I’m one who never understands why people who post recipes have to go through some kind of historical-account dialogue before they tell me how make the daggum meal, but now I find myself needing to tell a story about this dish.

Many (many) moons ago, when I was away at college, I drove from Tennessee to Arkansas for the weekend to visit a family near and dear to my heart. The wife was about to start making dinner after I arrived, and asked me a few questions. The conversation went something like this:

Her: “Val, do you like tomatoes?”
Me: “No.”
Her: “Do you like chilies? Like, green chiles?”
Me: “No.”
Her: “Well what about mushrooms, do you like those?”
Me: “No.”
Her: “Shoot. I was going to make Rotel casserole, but if you don’t like those things…”
Me: “Make what you want to make! I’ll eat around it if I have to, but don’t worry about what I like.” (thinking: because if it’s not Taco Bell, I don’t like it.)

She whipped up this Rotel casserole and I fell in love. IN. LOVE. So much so, that I made it all the time for the rest of my 20s, and I even sang a song about it. When I almost died hiking up the mountain, I would break out into a song that kept me going, because when we got back to town that night, I was going to make this for everyone for dinner. The thought of serving this after a grueling day in the wilderness was absolutely delightful. I couldn’t think of a better way to heal my bruised ego than to shove my mouth full of “Ro-teeeeeeeeeeel Cass-uh-roooooooooole”.

I don’t make it often now. It’s rare when it makes an appearance. It’s far from healthy. I’m sure there are some changes I could make to make it a little healthier, but…. why? So even though I don’t like 50% of its ingredients on their own, this is a southern-comfort-food that quickly became a favorite.

As we’re preparing over here in North Dakota for snowpocalypse this weekend, I thought this would be a great warm dish to share on those freezing cold evenings.

southern rotel

Ingredients:

1 lb. hamburger (or ground turkey)
1 can Rotel tomatoes & chiles*, undrained
1 can corn, undrained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. minute rice**
1 (big) bag of nacho cheese Doritos, or plain corn tortilla chips
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (at least!)

In a large skillet, brown and season your meat. I always season my meat the same way: with onion, garlic, and chili powder. Add the can of Rotel, the can of corn, the mushroom soup, and the rice. Stir to mix well and let simmer together over low to medium heat for 20 minutes. In the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan, crush some Doritos in a layer to cover. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese to cover. When meat mixture has heated through, add half of meat mixture to pan. Layer more crushed Doritos on top, sprinkle more cheese, and add the remaining meat mixture. Top with more crushed Doritos and more shredded cheese.

If you have cheese or Doritos left over, you’re doing it wrong. Live a little.

Bake at 350* for 20 – 30 minutes until cheese is melted through. Voila!

*I am at a stage in my life where my sensitivity to spice is worse than it’s ever been. I can’t even use mild Rotel anymore. So I use petite diced tomatoes. They have to be petite diced, because regular diced tomatoes are really just “lazily cut huge chunks” of tomato.

**We don’t buy minute rice. So I cook rice ahead of time and add it to the skillet mixture to simmer with the rest. I guess that’s one way I improve the nutrition quality of this meal. Look at me, being an example.

Warm up, and enjoy this delish dish of good ol’ southern comfort food. You’re welcome.