My healthy version of King Ranch Chicken posted three years ago is still my favorite, but I wondered if I could make it “hasty” without sacrificing the “tasty” part of the meal.
I consulted my good friend Betty (as in Betty Crocker) and her version takes shortcuts I decided to try. The biggest difference in my version and hers is my casserole soaks in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. Mine also has more ingredients. So if you’d like to make this casserole for your next covered dish dinner and you’re short on time, try Betty Crocker’s version. It’s tasty enough for my family, and a bit less work for me, although I still have to have my fresh cilantro garnish at the end. 😉
Remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a South Texas favorite because it travels well, freezes, and tastes great. The best part for me is that it’s made in advance , which makes it a great time-saver, especially when you’re expecting company. I thank my Houston friend, Bonnie Clyburn, for introducing me to this delicious dish. I’ve downsized and lightened the original recipe. Feel free to double the recipe for a crowd.
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
7 6” corn tortillas, cut into large strips
2 Tbsp. real butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
1 4-oz. can green chilies, rinsed and drained
1 14½-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 can low sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can low sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
½ cup light sour cream
2 cups grated 2% Colby-Jack cheese (I use my Vitamix to grate cheese)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) for garnish
Spray a 9″ X 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of dish with half the tortilla strips.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté onions, garlic, and green chilies until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add tomatoes and green chilies to the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer until liquid evaporates.
Stir in the salt, pepper, and cooked chicken. Remove from heat.
Spread half of this mixture over the tortilla strips covering the bottom of the baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the soup and sour cream. Spread half of the soup mixture over the layer of chicken and tomato mixture in the casserole.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the casserole.
Create another layer with the tortilla strips, chicken mixture, remaining soup mixture, and remaining cheese.
Pour the chicken broth over the casserole. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, preheat oven to 325° and remove casserole from the refrigerator to sit (at least 15 minutes, up to an hour).
Bake the casserole (uncovered) 1 hour, or until cheese browns and casserole bubbles.
Remove casserole from oven and allow it to cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro (optional) and serve.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings.