Thursday, August 27, 2009

Recipe thuRsday: King Ranch Chicken

One of the items on our menu for this week is a particularly easy and yummy dish, King Ranch Chicken. There are oodles and oodles of variations on this Texan classic, but this one is the one we make. A lot of people wonder where the name came from and the best reason I've seen is that this is the Texan-ized version of Chicken a la King. And of course, this being Texas, somehow King Ranch got associated with it (even though they had nothing to do with it's invention) and it's now become King Ranch Chicken. Regardless of how it got it's name, KRC is one of the few casseroles I love to make and eat. This particular version is derived from a recipe my Mom got from a colleague's wife.

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King Ranch Chicken (the Guerra-Dillon version)
8-10 corn tortillas
1 shredded rotisserie chicken (or 3-4 chicken breasts boiled with Mexican seasonings)
1 can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies, drained
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
3 cups of Mexican cheese, grated (or colby jack and pepper jack grated)
3 TBSP Gebhardt's chili powder
1/4 cup of chopped green onions
salt and pepper, as desired

1. Shred your chicken and grate your cheese, if you haven't done so already. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray (you'll thank me later).
2. In a large bowl, combine the cans of soup and drained Rotel with the chili powder (add S&P here if you desire). Mix well.
3. Add in the chicken, green onions, and cheese (hold back just a little of the cheese for the top).
4. Tear up the tortillas into 1-2" pieces. You can lay them on a cutting board and use a pizza cut to cut them if you prefer. Mix them into the bowl too.
5. Pour the mixture into the greased casserole dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cover the dish with foil.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes to get a nice crispy top.

Something of note...I know some people might try and be economical and use whatever leftover chicken bits they have for this and that's fine. I do NOT recommend, however, using leftover BBQ chicken (or other very strongly flavored chicken). BBQ chicken is great and KRC is wonderful, but not together. It will taste like liquid smoke with a dash of cheese...not good eats as the great Alton Brown would say!

Bon appetit!

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