This is one of those phenomenal expanding recipes, that on the surface looks like ok, maybe it will feed 4. It’s got 2 chicken breasts, some tortillas and a can of tomatoes. 4 people, tops, right? Wrong. It fills a whole 9×13 pan and with a salad, will feed 8, easily. Magic! It’s also delicious. There’s some sort of history involving the King Ranch in Texas (located way in the southern part of the state, between Brownsville and Corpus Christi) but I don’t remember it. Anyway, Mom made this once in a while when we were growing up. It’s a great pot-luck supper dish, because you can assemble it ahead of time, then bake it when you’re ready. It is a classic retro- American food, like cheeseballs or spam sandwiches. It’s also CHEAP- what with only 2 chicken breasts and a stack or tortillas, the rest of the stuff you might already have in your pantry and fridge. Anyway, here it is:
King Ranch Casserole
2 chicken breasts
2 cups of water
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon chili powder or ground chipotle pepper (if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 8 oz cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes (or 1- 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and 1- 4 oz diced green chilis)
salt and pepper to taste
1 whole onion, chopped
1 whole red or green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
10 corn tortillas, quartered
1 cup shredded co-jack, cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Cook the chicken breasts in the water for about 20 minutes. Take out the breasts and let them cook. Keep boiling the water until it has reduced to about 1-1/2 cups. Chop the chicken breasts.
While the chicken cooks, saute’ the onions, peppers and garlic in a skillet with the oil until soft and starting to brown a little bit.
Stir together the flour, milk, sour cream and seasonings, until there are no lumps. Then stir the milk mixture into the boiling chicken water. Stir well and as it thickens, stir in the tomatoes and chilis.
Put a layer of 1/2 the quartered tortillas in the bottom of a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray, or greased. Sprinkle 1/2 the chopped chicken on the tortillas, and 1/2 the cooked onion-pepper mix, and top with 1/2 the sauce. Repeat with the tortilla, chicken, onion mix and sauce. Top with the cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 an hour, until bubbly.
now, if you want to, you can substitute cream of chicken, celery or mushroom soup in place of the milk and flour sauce. Just mix it with the sour cream or yogurt and spices, and thin it with a touch of the broth. I’m trying to make a lower fat version by making my own sauce, tho, because I’m funny that way.
See! Magic! It’s what we’re having for supper even though I more in the mood for some of The Mandarin House’s fine Chinese Buffet, except that it would involve a 4 hour drive to get there, and, alas, no one is willing to do that this late in the day. There will be puh-LEN-tee of tasty leftovers for lunch tomorrow and through the weekend, because this stuff just keeps expanding. I don’t know how. Even Will could come over and get some and there’d be tons of leftovers.