The third of the ham dinners, this casserole is a variation of the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole, with more focus on making a sauce. In the original, the chicken partially cooked in the casserole, and the sauce formed from sour cream and the juices from the chicken as it finished cooking in the oven. It never fails. But I wanted something more reminiscent of a scalloped potato dish, so I did make a white sauce, to which I added a little cheddar cheese. Jasmine rice, carrots, and peas rounded out the flavors that I felt would complement the smoky ham.
Cheesy crumb topping
Still creamy after baking
Cheddar Ham and Rice Casserole
1 cup long grain Jasmine rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
salt, if not using a salted stock
- Prepare rice as directed on package, usually simmering in stock or water for 45 minutes. Mine needed about 1/4 cup more water before the time was up.
- Set aside to combine with other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350°; grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish.
1 1/2-2 cups leftover ham, diced
2 medium carrots, diced and precooked in microwave for about 4 minutes
1/2 bag frozen green peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter (for sauce)
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted (for topping)
- In large skillet, saute diced ham and carrots in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until heated through.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons flour until well blended with no lumps.
- Slowly stir in milk until all the flour/butter mixture is incorporated. Continue stirring until the sauce is slightly thickened, then stir in 1/2 cup cheese until melted.
- Stir in rice and then the frozen peas.
- Pour all into a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish.
- Stir together bread crumbs, 1/2 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.
So one way not to cook so many hamburgers on the grill is to smush all the ground beef into a meatloaf, right?
There is a lot of inspiration on the web for wrapping rolls of meat in bacon and then slow-cooking or smoking the roll on the grill. I get a lot of that inspiration from Tony Meets Meat (obviously contains meat recipes!), although I didn’t really want to stuff the meatloaf, and stuffing seems to be a popular meme for meat rolls on the web. Usually the rolls are stuffed with more meat, but don’t think turducken. There are also some good ideas for grilling a meatloaf without a stuffing, most of them, as well as the aforementioned meat rolls, using a woven mat of bacon to hold it all together. The bacon weave is a great idea, not just for the flavor but for how it keeps the meat inside basted throughout a long cooking.
I used the snake charcoal method and cooked the loaf for 3 hours at about 250°-300°. The internal temperature at the end was about 177° and it was not overdone. The meatloaf was terrifically juicy throughout and the bacon had a moist, chewy texture. I put the loaf on a narrow strip of foil, which doubled as a lifter, so the bacon on the bottom was not browned, but it melted in your mouth. It was another Wow! meal. I have made bacon-wrapped meatloaves in the oven many times, but the bacon dries out too much. Not so on the grill.
Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
Set up grill for indirect cooking—this could be a half and half setup or the snake method. Either way, you want to be able to keep the heat at medium to medium low for a long time. If you use the half and half method, don’t put your hood thermometer over the coals.
3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
22 oz package thick-sliced bacon
- Mix first 11 ingredients by hand in large bowl, adding enough evaporated milk to achieve a moist mix that will hold together in a loaf shape.
- Weave your slices of bacon into a square or rectangular mat as long as you want the loaf to be. As you can see in posts all over the web, it helps to make this on parchment paper or plastic wrap, which will help you roll it up. I kept out about three slices of bacon, because my 3 pound loaf was large in diameter, too large for one slice of bacon to go around. I laid the extra slices lengthwise across the loaf, and then brought the woven mat up the sides and slightly over those strips. The roll was then rolled over so the extra strips and ends were on the bottom. I kept the roll wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until the grill was ready. Here is a good image of the bacon weave: https://tonymeetsmeat.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/2015-06-28-20-40-39.jpg
- You could place the loaf directly on the grill, but I put a narrow strip of foil under it, which worked as a lifter, making moving the loaf on and off the grill easy. It also meant I didn’t need to secure the bottom pieces and ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
- Grill over a drip pan (or one you improvise with foil, like I did) for about 3 hours at 250°-300° or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Enjoy your 3 hours of doing nothing.