This Southwestern turkey and rice casserole recipe is layers of cheesy, spicy, creamy goodness and is topped with a crunchy corn tortilla topping.
This spicy turkey and rice casserole recipe is so simple to prepare and tastes absolutely delicious.
To make this Southwestern turkey and rice, simply sauté a mix of peppers, onions, and garlic. Remove them from the pan and then add the turkey and cook until it is well browned. I loaded it up with spices, like chili powder, paprika, cayenne powder, and cumin. Finally, add the sautéed vegetables along with the chicken stock, black beans, and crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. I add my rice to the mixture and cook it for about 10 minutes at a very low, bubbly boil until the rice just begins to become tender. Right before making the casserole, I add crema just for additional richness. You can use sour cream, heavy cream, or even whole milk.
I transfer the mixture to a casserole dish, layer it with shredded pepper jack cheese and then bake it until the rice is tender.
While the casserole is baking, I fry up corn tortilla strips as a topping.
Once everything is ready to go, I garnish the casserole with the crispy corn tortilla, radish slices, sliced scallion, cilantro leaves, and another drizzle of crema for good measure.
This Southwestern turkey and rice casserole is such a comforting and decadent dish!
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Southwestern Turkey and Rice Casserole
- Small skillet
- 9×12 Casserole dish
- 2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil
- 2 bell peppers trimmed, deseeded, and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper trimmed and diced
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon guajillo chili powder optional
- 15 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 14.5 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 1½ cups uncooked long-grain white rice
- ½ cup crema or sour cream or heavy cream
- ½ cup shredded pepper jack or sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 corn tortillas cut into strips
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Sliced radishes
- Minced scallion
Sautè the Aromatics:
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the peppers and onion and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds or until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl.
Brown the Turkey:
- If the pot seems dry, add a little more oil. Add the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through.
- Return the onions and peppers to the pan.
- Season the turkey and aromatics with chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and guajillo chili powder if using. Cook for 2 minutes more.
Finish the Casserole Filling:
- Pour the stock into the pot and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add the black beans and crushed tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more spices, if desired. Add the uncooked rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Stir in the crema and turn off the heat.
Assemble the Casserole:
- Spoon half of the casserole filling into the casserole dish. Arrange half of the shredded cheese on top. Spoon the remaining half of the casserole filling on top and arrange the remaining cheese on top. Transfer to the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is tender and cooked through. Remove from the oven.
Prepare the Crunchy Tortilla Strips:
- Pour 1'' of vegetable oil into the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Once hot, add the tortilla strips in an even layer and cook for about 3 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt immediately.
Garnish the Casserole:
- Lightly crush the crunchy tortilla strips and sprinkle over the casserole. Garnish with the sliced radishes, cilantro leaves, and minced scallions. If desired, drizzle a tablespoon of crema on top. Enjoy!