Recipe: King Ranch Casserole

I made this for harvest two years ago, and it was well liked. I’ve spent the last couple years trying to make sure I didn’t lose the cookbook it came out of.

This is a fairly modified version of the “Modernizing King Ranch Casserole” recipe that appeared in the Hometown Favorites newsstand booklet published by America’s Test Kitchen in June of 2014.

Before you start making this recipe, you may want to have a larger dish and some extra canned tomatoes and cheese and half-and-half on hand. I know I added in more chicken and a lot more chiles and peppers than the original recipe called for, but I can’t remember how much more of the sauce components were needed.

King Ranch Casserole, one version

  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups onions, chopped fine
  • 2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed, chopped fine
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed, chopped fine or medium-fine
  • 4 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed, chopped fine or medium fine
  • 2 pasilla peppers, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed, chopped fine or medium fine
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half [next time I’ll use the heavy cream the original recipe called for]
  • 8 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved, and cutting into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp dried celery
  • 1 pound Colby Jack cheese, shredded

Adjust oven racks to middle positions. Heat oven to 450 F. Arrange tortillas on 2 baking sheets and lightly spray both sides of tortillas with oil spray. Bake until slightly crispy and browned, about 12 min. Let cool, break into bite-size pieces.

Heat butter in Dutch oven or heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, jalapenos and cumin seeds. Cook until lightly browned. Add tomatoes and all other chopped chiles and peppers. Cook until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in flour, let cook about 1 minute. And broth and half-and-half, bring to simmer and cook until thickened.

Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink.

Take pan off heat, stir in cheese and dried parsley, stir until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper is desired.

Scatter half of tortilla pieces in 9×13 inch pan, set on rimmed baking sheet. Spoon half of filling evenly over tortilla pieces. Scatter remaining tortilla pieces over filling, then top with remaining filling.

Cover dish with foil, bake until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Remove foil, and if desired, sprinkle with about 6 ounces crushed Fritos corn chips.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Keeps well and will be thicker the next day.


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