Thursday, 25 September 2014

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Now I've already told you about my talented friend and chef Sandra Mason. And I mentioned that she had just opened a soup and sandwich shop just outside of San Antonio. It's called Four Kings. And not to name drop, but I'm naming dropping big time right now because her lovely restaurant was just voted Best Sandwich in San Antonio! And if you didn't read my blog where I mentioned Sandra, let me just tell you how proud I am to be her friend, and also that I can't settle in to my day until she posts the inspirational Four Kings message on their Facebook page every day. She sets my bar high in both a culinary and also a moral standard kind of way. I am inspired by her and I love her.

Four Kings posted a photo yesterday of their take out dinner special this week and I couldn't focus on my job for the rest of the day. It was called King Ranch Chicken Casserole. I had never heard of it, but I wanted to jump on a plane right then and there and abandon my life to eat that casserole in San Antonio! So I Googled the recipe as I am wont to do. And Holy Moly! It's damn popular in Texas. There were lots of recipes for it. Now I need to tell you that I am not Rachel Ray, and I don't care if I put a meal on the table in 30 minutes. Cooking is not a race against the clock. It should be a joy. And the more time I spend in the kitchen, the better for me. So supper is ready when it's ready.

BUT, most of those recipes called for a can of cream of chicken soup and a can of cream of mushroom soup. I kind of gave up soup casseroles back in my 20s. But I clearly think that must be just plain snobbery since this was the best food I ever tasted in my life. I'm going to make this again, but with a roux and a broth, just to compare. But since this was a mid-week meal and I was pretty damn excited to make it, I went with the soup idea. I'll come in and edit if the roux tastes any better. And if I had cooked and leftover chicken lying around, Rachel would be proud of me because it would have been a 30 minute meal. But I had to cook the chicken first. So not. But you could be more organized and do it in 30. Rev up your taste buds and let's make the Sandra Mason Special!

You'll need:
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3 cups of cooked chicken
1 chopped onion
1 red pepper chopped (or green bell)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
Canola oil just to sauté
1 can of cream of chicken soup (you don't even know how hard it was for me to type that)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (my fingers are nearly seizing up now)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (thank God I had my own jarred to alleviate the soup thing)
1 can of chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of coriander
1 package of 6 inch tortillas cut into 1 inch pieces
1 package of grated cheddar or Tex Mex cheese

To cook off the chicken breasts, I seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let them rest while you make the casserole. Then shred or cut into bite sized pieces and add in before you assemble.

For the sauce, soften the onion and pepper for about 5 minutes. Don't let it brown. Just soften and add the garlic. Add everything else except the tortillas and stir and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and mix it in. Taste for seasoning and add anything you like if needed.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish and layer the bottom with 1/3 of the tortilla. Then 1/3 of the chicken mixture, and 1/3 of the cheese. And do this 3 times. And believe it or not, everything gets used and fits perfectly into the dish! That helps my OCD a lot! Bake on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did my friends. Thank you Sandra Jayne Mason for being the best example of a human being that God ever blessed us with!

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