16 June 2009

Recipe: King Ranch Chicken Casserole

From Denny: Casseroles are comfort food. They are also usually cost effective. Retro is back in style these days and comfort food is no exception. Apparently, this casserole dates back to the 50's and 60's from a real ranch in Texas founded in 1853 by the name of King Ranch and they are eager to lay claim to the recipe.

In our grandmothers' day they made casseroles to use up tired over-cooked veggies warmed over too many times (Yuck!) Today we make casseroles from fresh ingredients and get this wonderful marriage of flavors!

Casseroles are great for cooking ahead for working parents or a large family to feed inexpensively. Even when there is just one or two people at home there are those casseroles you can make up ahead, place in smaller cooking containers, freeze and pull out as you require a meal. Some casseroles freeze well and others don't. When I do freeze a finished dish like this I usually do so BEFORE I bake it - tastes better, so is the texture.

You can make the original version or shave some calories using low-fat versions of the same tasty ingredients, your choice.

When I make biscuits from scratch I cut them out of the fresh dough, leave them unbaked, freeze them on a baking sheet and when frozen place them in a freezer quality ziplock bag. When we want biscuits I pull them out frozen, pop them onto a baking sheet and into a hot oven, and presto! yummy fresh biscuits! Casseroles work well on the same idea.

Any casserole with cheese can be a calorie monster so watch the portions unless Hungry Jack is coming for dinner at your house! Or 3 hungry teenage boys - in that case, dish out your portion and hide it before they know it exists... :)

King Ranch Chicken Tex-Mex Casserole

From: “Lone Star Legacy II” by Austin (Texas) Junior Forum


1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb.) chicken or 3 to 3 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (we like chicken breasts at our house)

1 large onion, chopped (we like red onions or Vidalia sweet onions)

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 (10 3/4-oz.) cream of mushroom soup (low-fat in our house)

1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup (low-fat in our house)

8 ozs. grated Cheddar cheese (low-fat in our house)

1 (12-count) pkg. corn (not flour) tortillas (flour tortillas make it gooey and gummy disgusting. Corn tortillas are higher in calcium and hold up better to a firmer texture in a casserole situation.)

Chili powder (a lot of awesome chili powders from New Mexico!)

Garlic salt (I find garlic salt too much salt, we use garlic powder)

1 (10-oz.) can Ro-tel Original or Mild Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained (do NOT purchase the hot level as it intensifies in a casserole)


1. Boil chicken until tender in water with chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped bell pepper, and salt and pepper, to taste. Reserve stock, but remove chicken and vegetables. Cool slightly and cut chicken into bite-size pieces.

2. Combine soups and grated cheese. Just before assembling casserole, soak the tortillas in boiling stock for just a second. They will fall apart if you let them stay in longer. If they break up, layer them anyway.

3. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. (Because I can't stand preservatives in oil products, I use clarified butter, melted and brushed on with a pastry or basting brush, tastes better too! Can use unsalted clarified butter if you are worried about reducing the salt content.)

Start layering casserole in this order: first, half of the tortillas, half of the chicken and vegetables, and then sprinkle, to taste, with chili powder and garlic salt; and then half of the soup mixture. Repeat with another layer. ending with the soup mixture.

4. Next, cover the top of the casserole with undrained Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Green Chilies. Juices in the casserole should be about half the depth of the dish; if not, add a little more of the stock.

5. Bake uncovered in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.


A refreshing Ice Tea with fresh mint would go well with this!

Mint Iced Tea

From: “Southern Cocktails” by Denise Gee

Serves: 6 or more.

Mint Syrup:

Makes: about 1-1/2 cups.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

12 fresh mint sprigs


1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add the mint and set aside; cool to room temperature.

3. Pour the mint syrup through a strainer into a clean container and store in the refrigerator indefinitely.



Tea bags (we like Family-size Luzianne brand, awesome brand that especially developed a black tea for perfect iced tea every time, as no bitterness. If you don't have it in your area; order it on the internet; it's inexpensive and very tasty, worth the effort.)


Mint Syrup

Fresh mint sprigs, if desired


1. Make tea according to directions on the tea bag package.

2. Cool to room temperature. Put ice cubes in glass. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons Mint Syrup to glass. Add cooled tea to fill. Stir to mix. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve.

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