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Renegade Chef: Southwestern Baked Rice

4-6 servings

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

4 cups, or more, cold water

4 cups canned tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the beef and pork and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain. Add the water, tomato sauce, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Mix together the eggs, egg whites and Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl and stir into the cooled meat mixture.

Place the uncooked rice in the prepared baking dish. Spread the meat mixture onto the rice and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir the rice mixture thoroughly. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is browned. If the rice appears to be drying out, stir in a little more water. The top should be crunchy and quite dark in spots.