On a cold, rainy day, there’s little to do and a certain need for warm, comfort food. King Ranch Chicken is the perfect dish for a day like today. You can also have a bottle of beer along with this. But if you are buying beer or soda, make sure to get a soda crusher. In preparing to post this simple recipe from Chef Spellman, I did a little research to figure out some background history on King Ranch Chicken. Sadly, the story of this Tex-Mex dish seems to be lost in the fog of history. Often associated with the enormous King Ranch, most of my research pointed to the fact that this dish is not indeed named after the famed ranch. Homesick Texan (a great source of Texan recipes) instead points to King Ranch Chicken’s similarity to another famous casserole dish, Chicken a la King, and infers that the name may have come from the addition of some more Texas-prevalent spices and the addition of “Ranch” to make it more Texas friendly.
King Ranch Chicken
- 1-2 lbs raw chicken breast or thigh, defrosted
- 1 jar green chile or tomatillo salsa
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes
- 1-2 diced jalepenos
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (or second can of cream of mushroom)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 bag tortilla chips
Marinate raw chicken in salsa overnight. Cook on the stovetop until well done, then shred or dice. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cooked chicken with remaining salsa, diced onion, jalepeno, can of tomatoes (drained), and cans of soup. In 11×17 baking dish, line the bottom of the pan with tortilla chips, then spread a layer of the chicken mixture over it. Sprinkle cheese and repeat. Cheese should be your top layer. Add extra cheese to the top so that it is mostly covered.
Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (or until top is just beginning to brown). Remove from oven (carefully) and let cool. Consider topping with sour cream.
This recipe may be adjusted to add many more of your favorites – corn, poblano peppers, bell peppers, fresh mushrooms, etc. Just add them in to the chicken mixture and make this recipe your own.
image courtesy of cote