Friday, July 25, 2014

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

This recipe, adapted from a recipe on the Homesick Texan blog, is one of our favorite casseroles and I usually have the needed ingredients on hand. When the Good Cook Potluck Pantry Panic Challenge was presented, I knew immediately this was my pantry panic go-to recipe. Before discovering this recipe, I made King Ranch Casserole the old way, with the two different kinds of soup. It was good. It’s what I was used to. Once I found this recipe, though, I have never made it any other way. This is a spicy dish. The freshness of the peppers, cilantro and fresh lime juice, make this dish pop with flavor. Save yourself the regrets and double this recipe so you have plenty for leftovers and to freeze.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
by Sharyl
adapted from Homesick Texan King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 1/2 pounds chicken boneless chicken breasts or tenders (boneless and skinless weight)
4 teaspoons ancho chile powder, divided
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 onion – diced
1 red bell pepper – diced
1 poblano pepper – diced
3 minced garlic cloves or 3 cubes of Dorot frozen crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
10 - 15 corn tortillas (the original recipe calls for 10, but over time I have added a couple more to each layer)
3 cups grated pepper jack and cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder, 2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. Heat a skillet with the olive oil, cook chicken on medium heat until cooked through (about 5 minutes per side for tenders and 10 minutes per side for breasts.) Shred or chop chicken into bite-size pieces using a Good Cook Flexible Chopping Mat. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Do the same with the peppers and onion, just use a different chopping mat. Melt butter over medium heat, and add onion, red bell and poblano pepper to the sauce pan. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic cloves or Dorot garlic cubes, flour, cayenne pepper, cumin and remaining 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder and cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken broth and cook on low until mix thickens somewhat. Add the half and half, and drained can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring periodically with the Good Cook Silicone Spatula. Add the sour cream, remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice and 1/4 cup of cilantro and take pan off the burner.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bottom of the 13" x 9" Good Cook Nonstick Covered Cake Pan, add 1/2 cup of the sauce to cover bottom of pan (before adding the chicken.) In a large bowl, combine the chicken, rest of the sauce and remaining chopped cilantro. Lay 5 or more corn tortillas, to cover the sauce in the cake pan. Feel free to tear pieces of the corn tortillas to fill in small areas so all areas are covered. Add half of the chicken mix and spread over the tortillas. Add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese and layer with another 5 corn tortillas. Add rest of the chicken mix and top with remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, uncovered, until it is brown and bubbling. Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting, if you can wait that long. Serve with sides of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

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