Monday, August 29, 2011

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

I have seen recipes for this dish in many magazines.  Mostly Southern magazines.  I have wanted to try it for a long time and since I decided to go through my recipe binder I figured now would be a good time.  It was good.  Not fabulous, but I wouldn't throw the recipe away.  Hogan said it was good cuz you didn't even taste the tomatoes.  Chris said he would eat it again, but it wasn't a favorite.  It has a different taste, but I think it had a nice soft mexican chicken flavor.  So - try it if you'd like!  The recipe calls for a whole chicken.  I didn't have one so I used 5 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I bet it would be delicious with a rotisserie chicken!  This is a nice recipe to make with your kids.  Ava was dumping the ingredients into the tomato-soup mixture and then she cut up the tortillas with a pizza cutter and helped me assemble. 

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 4.5 to 5-lb whole chicken
2 celery ribs, cut into 3 pieces
2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 10-oz cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained (I used one can of regular diced tomatoes and one can of the diced tomatoes with green chiles)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
12 6-inch corn tortillas cut into 1/2-inch strips

If the chicken has giblets, remove them then rinse the chicken.
Place chicken, celery, carrots and salt in a large dutch oven with water to cover.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low.  Cover and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is done.  Remove from heat and remove chicken from broth and cool 30 minutes.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid and save or throw out what is left in the pan, including the veggies.
Preheat oven to 350.  Melt butter in a large skillet then add onion, green pepper and garlic and saute about 5 minutes.  Stir in the reserved 3/4 cup broth, soups, tomatoes and spices.  Simmer and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Skin and bone the chicken and shred the meat.  Layer 1/2 the chicken into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan then top with half of soup mixture and 1 cup of cheddar cheese.  Put a layer of the tortilla strips on top of those layers.  Repeat layers once more and top with the last 1 cup of cheese.
Bake covered for an hour and let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Be sure to use a serrated knife to cut it because of the tortilla strips.

*note - since I didn't use the whole chicken and just used the chicken breasts instead - I still cooked it with the veggies and salt and water, but I didn't cover the chicken with water - it was not quite level with all the stuff inside my pot.

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