King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Bahhhhh, I can’t find my spatula!! I hate when this kind of stuff happens. It’s not just any spatula either. It’s my offset spatula- the one I use for all my frosting and spreading needs. UGH! I just had it the other day when I put together my Strawberry Cupcakes. I don’t understand how things just up and walk away sometimes. And I lost my meat thermometer the other day. Boy, am I on a roll. So I guess the rest of my day I am going to be spending searching for that darn thing.

Aside from the disappearing act my kitchen utensils are performing lately, I wanted to talk to you about another not completely seasonally appropriate dish haha. Please bare with me- like I said yesterday, I’ve got to get these recipes out of the way so we can move on to the summery type dishes : )

Just like the Skillet Shepherd’s Pie that I shared yesterday, I made this casserole for my parents when they were here last month. This is not something I could typically make my Husband for dinner on a normal night so I was interested to see if he would eat it. He isn’t a fan of creamy, cheesy things. And casseroles in general aren’t his thing. He likes to have “divisions” in his dinner, ya know? Meat here, broccoli there, and mashed potatoes over here. He doesn’t want his food to be all jumbled in one. Me on the other hand? Jumble it up baby : D But guess what? I made him try it… and he liked it! Score! Now I have something else I can add to our menu rotation.

The really reason why I made this casserole lies a little deeper though. A while back I made a Light King Ranch Casserole from Cook’s Country Magazine. It was my first experience with King Ranch Casserole and I thought it was absolutely delicious. But it was a light version of something I had never had the full fat version of… So of course I had it in my mind to try the original King Ranch Casserole to see how it compared. Naturally this full fat version won out.

Seasoned shredded chicken layered with a spicy cream sauce, shredded cheese, and flour tortillas. Ab-SO-lutely delicious!

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
  • 1½ pounds of chicken, without skin and bones
  • 4 teaspoons of lime juice
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 10oz. can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained (or you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles)
  • 4 teaspoons ancho chile powder (or chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup of half and half
  • ⅓ cup of sour cream
  • ½ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cups of grated pepper jack and cheddar
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season the chicken with the lime juice, 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder and a dash of salt. In a skillet heated on medium, cook the chicken in the olive oil on each side for about 10 minutes.
  2. When chicken is done (after about 20 minutes), shred it with two forks and set aside. Taste and see if it needs more salt and pepper. Should yield about 3 cups.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium, and add the onions, red bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the chicken broth and cook on low until mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and Ro-Tel cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Uncover the pot, and add the sour cream, 2 teaspoons of lime juice and ¼ cup of cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Heat up the tortillas (you can do this by adding a bit of oil on an iron skillet and then cooking the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side).
  9. Ladle ½ cup of the sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking pan.
  10. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps.
  11. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1½ cups of grated cheese.
  12. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top.
  13. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serves 6-12, depending on how big a portion you distribute. Goes great with sour cream and cilantro on top.

adapted from The Homesick Texan

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