King Ranch Chicken Casserole

If you are a Texan, chances are you have had your share of King Ranch Chicken Casserole. If you are not a Texan, chances are you are like “WTF is King Ranch Chicken?”. I realize it sounds like a limited-time special at BK, but trust me when I say you can’t get much more comforting, down-home deliciousness than this stuff.

Like most good southern casseroles, pretty much every classic recipe calls for some variety of Campbell’s “Cream of ______” soup. While I am certainly not above such ingredients and know they make for a tasty casserole, I think it’s more fun and really simple to make my own cream sauce. In researching for this recipe, I found a great non-canned soup version from the Homesick Texan. I sort of adapted it into my own, although I changed things and added a bunch of Royito’s, so I guess you could say I “adapted” it in the same way that 90′s Demi Moore remake of The Scarlett Letter was adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel. Except that my version is actually good and doesn’t involve any gratuitous nudity. Unless you want it to, of course.

Anyway, here’s how it’s done:

Start by doing a fine dice on some onion, red bell pepper, and poblano pepper.

Get those sauteing in some butter and sprinkle with a little salt to add flavor and pull the moisture from them.

Buttery veggies…mmm…

Where was I? Oh, ok. Now mince up and bunch of garlic and toss it in.

Now sprinkle in as much flour as you did butter and stir out the raw flour taste.

Pour in chicken stock and half & half (you can also use milk here), and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently until it has thickened up.

Now we toss in some shredded cooked chicken. I just used a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, you can cook your own chicken if that’s your bag.

And season it up with some…cajun seasoning?! I know, this is not traditional…but it’s delicious and totally appropriate here.

Oh, and I almost forgot about sour cream! This gives it some tang.

Now we are just gonna layer. Like lasagna. Start with a little bit of Royito’s.

Next we do corn tortillas, followed by half of the chicken mixture, and cheese.

Now do it again. More Royito’s. More torillas, the rest of the chicken.

And…more Royito’s. Just finish the jar, don’t be scared. Then a final layer of tortillas, and finish off this whole situation with a final layer of cheesy goodness.

Now pop it in the oven. Let it bake for about 30-35 minutes until bubbling all around the sides and starting to brown on top.

Now eat up, y’all.

Printable version:

Royito’s King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 whole rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup half & half
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tsp cajun seasoning
1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese
1/2 lb grated colby jack cheese
2 cups (1 16-oz. jar) Royito’s Hot Sauce
12 corn tortillas

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot, melt butter and saute onion and peppers for about 5-7 minutes until softened. Toss in garlic and flour, stir, and let cook for another minute. Pour in chicken stock and cream and stir constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens, then reduce heat to low. Now add chicken, sour cream and cajun seasoning and the chicken mixture is complete.

Now start layering in a 10 x 13 in. casserole dish. Start with about 1/2 cup Royito’s on the bottom, then put 4 tortillas on top of that. Spread half of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas, followed by half of the cheese blend. Now start again with another layer of Royito’s (about 3/4 cup), 4 more tortillas, the rest of the chicken mixture, the rest of the jar of Royito’s, and the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until bubbling on all sides and the top has started to brown. Take out of the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes to set.

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