Fiesta Chicken Casserole in the Slow Cooker

Happy January 15th! Research shows that most people have given up on their New Year's Resolution by now. I can see that, since I'm eating spoonfuls of frozen cookie dough while I type, right now... (the calories disappear when frozen, right?)

What about you? Did you have a resolution to cook more at home this year? Meal plan? Make the switch from white to brown rice?

or just cut back a bit on the cookie dough?

This dinner will help with all of those things. It's a spoof on the brown rice and chicken casserole and salsa chicken --- two of my absolute favorite dinners. We ate it for 3 days straight --- this is a lot of food!

The Ingredients.

serves 6, easily

1 1/2 cups raw brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup broth or water (I used  beef broth, because I already had an open carton in the fridge)
1 cup prepared salsa
1 (15.25-ounce) can corn (with juice!!)
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 chicken breast halves (frozen ok)
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. You might want to spray the inside of your stoneware, first. No need if you're using the Ninja. Place the rinsed rice into  the bottom of your pot (the rinsing isn't necessarily to wash the rice, but to get it wet so there's added moisture).
Stir in the water or broth, salsa, the entire can of corn, and the drained black beans.
Place the chicken breast halves on top, and layer on sliced cheese.

Cover, and cook on low for about 7 hours, or on high for 4 hours. If the rice is still hard after this time, cook longer (check every 30 minutes or so).

 I cooked ours for 1 hour on high, then 6.5 hours on low. Your meal is done when the rice is cooked, and the chicken is no longer pink. If you are out of the house all day, set it to cook on low for 7 hours, and then let the pot stay on the "warm" setting until you return home.


The Verdict.

I was worried about this dish. I was concerned that I had too many different components in the pot and that the rice would either turn to mush, or never cook. That didn't happen ---- instead the rice cooked beautifully in the broth, salsa, and corn liquid and had a fantastic flavor without needing any additional seasoning. I used a mild salsa, and it was perfect for our family.
The cheese was thick and coated the chicken beautifully. My kids liked scooping the rice and cheese up with tortilla chips.


I wanted to share with you that my friend Crystal has just released her first EBook, and it's on meal planning. If you have never meal planned, or are looking for meal plan inspiration, this is the resource for you. It's only $0.99 right now, and you should snatch it up, because I'm going to advise Crystal to raise her price. :-)

Happy Tuesday to you!

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at January 15, 2013

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What they say about this article

  1. Mmmmm this sounds very good- and I look forward to trying it! I love your recipes- and always look forward to your Verdict!

  2. Anonymous1/15/2013

    This sounds yummy, I look forward to trying it.

  3. I just found the recipe I'm making this weekend! :) Thanks!

  4. This is in my slow cooker right now. I didn't have salsa so I added stewed tomatoes and spices instead. Can't wait for dinner! Thank you for your recipes! They always come out great and save me lots of time in the kitchen.

  5. I want to make this, but hate corn. Since the recipe calls to put in the juice thats in the can, will it make any difference if I leave it out?

  6. Hi Maritez, yes, it will.
    Make up for the difference by adding an additional cup of broth. Corn juice adds about 1/2 cup of liquid, but the corn itself is pretty wet and juicy. I'm guessing at the additional cup, but that's what I'd try.

  7. Wow. This looks interesting.

    I've been cooking with a slow cooker for years, but I admit this recipe looks kind of daunting. Raw rice straight in the pot and cooking for the whole day, and cheese on top from the very beginning? What could possibly go wrong? :-O

    Maybe I will try something like this, since you've given it a go first!

  8. Hey, I attempted this dish, and though the flavours were great, the rice turned out very hard and undercooked. I recreated the dish exactly, using 1/2 cup of water and cooked it on high for 4 hours. Any advice on what I may have done wrong?

  9. Hi Edward,

    oh no! I'm sorry this happened. I think you just needed to cook it longer. Slow cooking isn't an exact science, unfortunately. The cooking time is a range, which is why many times the directions say "cook 4 hours, or until the rice is cooked, meat no longer pink", etc.

    I wish there was a perfect formula, but because of differences in pots, altitude, thickness of meat pieces, and so on, it just isn't.

    That said, I agree that this doesn't read very well as I wrote it, and the judgement call part of the directions isn't until a line later --- that's not user fault, that's my fault. I sometimes forget that not everyone slow cooks all day long every day ---- and I hate wasting food, and I'm so sorry this happened.

    I'll tweak the recipe instructions right now to make them more clear.

    I hope you're having a happy friday, and hope your meal wasn't a complete bust. --steph

  10. Yum, Steph! Mr. GFE would totally flip over this recipe! :-) And I would not complain either. ;-)


  11. We made this for dinner, and overal it was pretty good. Kids didn't even notice it was brown rice. I would make the following changes: it seemed to need salt, so I'd either add salt to the rice and liquids, or have people salt their own dishes. Also, the cheese was wierd by the end of 7 hours, so I'd add it at the end and let it melt on the top, or even just shred cheese over individual portions. We also served it with sourcream which was nice. The kids did like eating it with tortilla chips-thanks for the suggestion!

  12. Is that really enough liquid for the rice? Usually rice to liquid is a 1:2 ration--this looks like 1:1 at best (depending on how much liquid is in your corn, it could be less).

  13. Hi Erika, great question. The salsa gives 1 cup liquid, the canned corn has 1/2 cup, and the broth provides another 1/2 cup. The chicken also gives off moisture when it's cooking, as do the blackbeans. Also, having the rice wet is helpful, although I did test it without rinsing first, and it puffed up nicely.

    I hope this helps a bit!

  14. Ooh. I can't WAIT to give this one a try! I'll add it to the menu plan for next week. :)

  15. All right, we're trying it tomorrow! Fingers crossed!

  16. This is in the crockpot and I'm going through the meal plan ebook too. I need to START my resolutions- that's how behind I've gotten!

  17. I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out great! I used 1 cup of chicken stock (up from 1/2c in the recipe) because my slow cooker runs hot and I was worried about the rice drying out, and it worked perfectly. The rice was really creamy, almost like a risotto; I've never been able to get brown rice that creamy before, so I was really pleased with it.

    Regarding an earlier comment that the recipe lacks salt, I think this really is personal preference. I used no-salt-added corn and low-salt homemade chicken stock, and I found it to be just fine -- the sodium in the salsa and cheese was plenty. But we don't eat a lot of processed food, so when we do, we tend to find it very over-salted.

    Thanks for all the great recipes -- I've lost count of how many friends I've recommended this blog to over the years! And I even bought your book for a gluten-free friend who doesn't spend much time on the internet. She loves it. :)

  18. 24 hours. That's how long the rice/chicken/beans stayed in the cooker, and the rice was still hard. (Don't worry, I took the chicken out when it was done, and added more liquid as needed.) Finally scooped it all out and cooked it on the stove until the rice was edible.

    I need a new slow cooker.

  19. Whoops, that should read the rice, *corn* and beans stayed in the cooker for that long. A good 6 hours of that was on high, too.

  20. oh Erika, that stinks. I'm sorry. Valentine's Day is coming.... I hope cupid brings you a new cooker. Up under the slowcooking tab I've outlined my favorites; they are of all price ranges.

    I'm glad that you were able to salvage dinner on the stovetop, though. I hate wasting food. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. xoxo

  21. I liked the favors of this dish, but it reinforced why I rarely use a slow cooker. I cooked it for 4 hours on low, and the rice was waaaaay overlooked and mushy, the chicken was super dry and I put the cheese on after it was cooked and just held it on warm, and it was hard and rubbery. I followed your instructions exactly and it just didn't work. But the flavor was good and the kids loved it. I have made lots of your recipes and always love them, I just always make them on the stovetop or in the oven instead of the slow cooker!

  22. Delicious, thank you. I had extra time to soak the rice in plain water and marinate the chicken in ½ cup of the salsa (about 30-60 min) before turning the slow cooker on before going to bed. Used 1 cup brown rice; ½ cup broth; 1.5 cups frozen corn; 1.5 cup salsa; no beans; 1 pkg boneless skinless thighs (1.41 lbs). Next time I will add carrots. I will add plain yogurt and shredded cheese when ready to eat (I make crockpot meals for lunches to bring to work). I cooked 3 hours on high, then it switched to warm all night. Delicious. Rice was cooked through and even a little mushy, but I like my brown rice like that. The chicken looked good because of the salsa on it.

  23. Hey, we made this and didn't like it at all. Sorry!!!!

  24. Hi Stephanie, Sounds great! Love your book and I'm planning to make the Buffalo Wing Soup for a Super Bowl party. I'd like to make this too. Do you think I could cut up the chicken first or would it cook too fast that way? Thanks for your help!

  25. Thanks for a great resource with your website! My fave recipe here is the 3-packet pot roast, so I was eager to try a new recipe, especially with chicken. (I don't have any slow cooker chicken recipes.) I tried this fiesta chicken recipe and the aroma was great, but it didn't turn out well unfortunately. I cooked it on low for 7 hours, but the rice was mushy and the flavor was bland. Also, the beans, corn, and rice mix got burned and crusted onto my slow cooker. :( What can I do to improve this recipe?

  26. Rice was half crunchy, half mushy. Very bad. I need to read the comments first before attempting.