Friday, February 19, 2016

King Ranch Chicken

There are not many things that I have that have been around in my life longer than my wife, Sandra, but this cookbook is one of them. This is without any doubt my favorite cookbook. Unfortunately the cookbook is out of print , but I have been able to find it for friends as a used book by searching the internet.

The recipes in this cookbook reflect the simple but full of flavor dishes of my home state of Texas. The book was published in 1982 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Houston Livestock and Rodeo and was given to me for Christmas that year. We cooked many meals out of this book while raising three children because most of the recipes are simple and relatively quick to make. I have also used it as a guide for making the traditional dishes of Texas such as barbeque, chili and Tex-Mex dishes. The dish I have made many times for our family over the years is a Texas tradition from a huge ranch in South Texas where it was used to feed the ranch hands. It is called King Ranch Chicken, it is simple, quick to prepare and a definite crowd pleaser.

King Ranch Chicken
by Willie Simmons
From the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 50th Anniversary Cookbook

1 Large chicken (about 5 pounds)
12 flour tortillas
10.5 oz. can Cream of Chicken Soup
10.5 oz. can Cream of Mushroom Soup
10 oz. can Rotel Tomatoes
15 oz. jar Jalapeno Cheez Whiz (Really! The recipe is really old!)
8 oz. Longhorn or Colby Cheese shredded
1 Onion, chopped
Additional Jalapenos (optional)
Chicken broth

The goal with the chicken is to end up with about 2 pounds of cooked chicken. This is the most time consuming step so finding a short-cut always put dinner on the table faster for the kids. You can use leftovers for this, buy rotisserie chicken for it (probably 2 chickens), grilled boneless chicken breasts or boil a whole 5 lb. chicken and pull it apart after is has cooled. Reserve the chicken broth for use later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

The sauce in the recipe gives it the flavor. Like many Texas dishes this one uses jalapeno to spice it up. Our kids grew up on spice and heat and I imagine their kids will as well but you can use regular Cheez Whiz to take some of the heat out. Mix and heat about half of the Colby, the tomatoes, chicken and mushroom soups, the Cheez Whiz and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until everything has blended into a creamy cheese sauce. You can add jalapenos to the sauce for additional spice. You can also replace the Cheez Whiz with American cheese but it is a neat bit of nostalgia in the recipe.

Cut the tortillas into triangles or halves and soak them in the reserved chicken broth. Layer the
bottom of a 9x12 casserole dish with the tortillas triangles, followed by the cooked chicken and then a layer of the cheese sauce. Repeat the layers and top off with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Cheez Whiz may not be that good for you but it's also amazing in Philly cheesesteaks "with whiz"!