Cowboy Rice

Cowboy rice

Hi Yo, Silver … Away! Off to the campfire for dinner! Rice and beans were staples on the trail in the old West. They were cheap to buy, relatively easy to carry, easy to cook, and above all, had a long ‘shelf life’ – if you get my drift!

Beans were cooked with spices that remained pretty much the same; salt, pepper, chilies or whatever spices “Cookie” could get at the local Trading Post. Rice was pretty bland and was usually spiced with tomatoes (if they could get any) and the same spices and the gravy from the pan fried steak or pork, or the liquid from the beans.

(Actually, that’s basically how the Cajun “Red Beans & Rice” originated.) But again, as usual, I wander off into the wild blue yonder…

When both cheese and chilies were available, they were combined to stretch the meal. It was pretty hearty and filling, and still is a good accompaniment to any meat or chicken dish today. Try it instead of the usual Spanish (or Mexican) rice next time you make tacos, enchilada, or fajitas. This will be a great change of pace.


Cowboy Rice

  • 5 cups cooked rice (any kind you like)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 8 oz. canned diced green chilies
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3/4 lb. grated Mexican-style cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Butter (or spray) a 2 quart oven proof casserole and set aside.

Reserve about 1/3 of the grated cheese. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and toss together until thoroughly blended. You don’t want to mash the mixture, but the sour cream and butter should coat the rice and the chilies should be scattered throughout the mixture.

Pour into the prepared casserole and smooth top. Sprinkle reserved cheese evenly across the top of the rice mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes until hot and the cheese has melted and is golden brown – not burnt looking – on top. If your casserole is clear glass, you may see it bubbling on the side and bottom.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving (the cheese holds its heat) and sitting will make it easier to serve.

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