Zarela's Famous Creamy Rice Casserole from Aaron Sanchez

"I love Aaron Sanchez. He is one of my favorite TV chefs. He runs a number of restaurants. The one he runs with his mother is called Zarela's, his mother's first name. He was on a show called, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" with his mother. His choice was Zarela's creamy, cheesy rice dish. This is what Zarela wrote after the show. I am posting it here so I don't lose the recipe. "I was just on the Food Network show The Best Thing I Ever Ate with my son, chef and Food Network star, Aaron Sanchez and within minutes viewers were going to my web site, signing up for updates and writing me to share the recipe. Thank you very much for your interest and I hope you enjoy our famous creamy rice casserole. This is a superior party dish that can be easily pre-assembled and reheated just prior to serving. This is why it is high on the list of all caterers in Northern Mexico, myself included. What makes it a favorite of all eaters is that it has layers of flavors - creamy and hot, crunchy corn kernels, and the cilantro adds a refreshing after-taste.""
photo by eknecht photo by eknecht
photo by eknecht
Ready In:
1hr 15mins




  • Bring water to a boil and add butter and salt. When the butter is melted add the rice and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to very low and cover the rice with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, Take rice out of the saucepan and spread on a baking sheet to cool or allow to cool in the pan uncovered.
  • Meanwhile, combine the sour cream with the 1/4 cup chopped onion and cilantro and add salt to taste.
  • Heat the lard in a frying pan and add the 1/2 cup chopped onion and garlic.
  • Dice the poblanos and add to pan when the onion is wilted.
  • Saute for one minute.
  • Let cool and combine with the rice.
  • Drain the can of corn well and add to the cool rice and poblano mixture.
  • Add the sour cream mixture and mix in the grated cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through in a 350 degree oven.
  • If using a Pyrex dish, the oven temperature should be 325 degrees.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I liked this a lot- I'm soooo full right now!! Added a can of chickpeas and served it for meatless Monday. Also used 2 cans of diced roasted green chilies instead of doing the hard work myself. I didn't use all the rice, just as much as the wet ingredients would allow and still ended up with a ton. This will be a great potluck go-to. Thanks for posting!
  2. Used to travel to Manhattan regularly before I retired and I would eat at Zarella's 2 or three times on each visit!!! I ordered this dish EVERTIME!!!! It is more than delicious!!! I was so disappointed when she closed her doors!! You have no idea how excited I am to find this recipe!!! Even if I don’t make with Zarella's perfection, I think it will be a fabulous dish!!!!
  3. Delicious! I sauteed all of the onion with a diced jalapeno, garlic, and fresh corn cut from the cob, then mixed everything together with sour cream. Saved the cilantro to sprinkle on top just before serving. I'll make this again!
  4. Delish!!! Will be making this again, and again. Family loved it !
  5. oh, this was sooooooooo good. I made a couple changes...I followed the previous reviewers advice and added the can of cream of chicken soup. I also used 2 cans of chopped mild chiles in place of the poblanos, and served with a little salsa. Fantastic! I could have licked the plate clean! Thanks for posting.


I live in southwest Florida and I love to cook for family and friends. I've been a "foodie" for years, and I'm always reading cookbooks and cooking magazines. I love cats and had four until my darling Himalayan Pillsbury recently died. I'm also a tennis and football fan. <img src="">
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