Chef Dad's Cheesy Ham & Rice Casserole

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

Ingredients:

1 lb. ham (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
10 slices of cooked, chopped bacon
10 oz. can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies (found in the canned tomato section)
6 tbsp. butter
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 lb. Velveeta cheese (cubed)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped fine)
Grated Parmesan cheese (use as a topping when serving)
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1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (not instant)
2 cups chicken broth or water
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cooking:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Make the rice by combining ingredients for that in a lidded sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, stir well, then put the cover back on and reduce the heat to low or medium-low so it will just simmer. Let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes until it looks like all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice. Remove from the heat, keep covered and set aside until final assembly.

3) Make your cheese sauce by combining the butter, milk and cubed Velveeta in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, plus the crushed red pepper, and stir this mixture every few minutes. Don't rush this by turning up the heat or you'll burn the cheese. Low and slow for this sauce. Once the cheese sauce is done, it's time to assemble the dish.

4) Use cooking spray to coat a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine your cooked diced ham, bacon, Rotel, parsley, cooked rice and cheese sauce together and mix well. Pour everything into your casserole dish. Bake uncovered for at least 50 but no longer than 55 minutes. Serve immediately and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top with each serving.

This recipe makes about 8-10 servings and is great as a leftover meal. 

Cook's notes: It's beneficial to this dish if you make the rice as described above. Instant or "10-minute" rice is OK too. You'll need about 4 cups of cooked rice. Finally, this mixture will look too wet when you first pour it into the casserole dish. Don't worry, it'll come out of the oven just right.