King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Judy Bailey King Ranch Casserole
From the kitchen of Judy Bailey
Serves 12

1 cooked chicken, boned, and shredded
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes
½ can green chilies, chopped
12 corn tortillas, broken, or cut, into bite size pieces
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Saute green pepper and onion in melted butter, just until translucent. Set aside until time to assemble the casserole

3. Layer components, in this order, into a 9×13 casserole:

  1. Bottom: tortillas
  2. Second: chicken
  3. Third: Liquids
  4. Fourth: Veggies
  5. Fifth: Cheddar cheese

(Note: The veggies can be combined with the liquid, as Lea has done here. She likes the distribution better when they are stirred together).
4. Bake 45-60 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the cheese to set up.

Judy Bailey served this delicious cheesy mixture at a small gathering at her home in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 2009, and offered Pico de Gallo and a combination of equal parts of ground cumin, chili pepper, and paprika, to sprinkle on top. What a wonderful layer of additional flavor!. Yum! This is great comfort food!

King Ranch Casserole AssemblyIn the photos to the left, you see Lea constructing this delicious dish for fifty persons attending a church fellowship dinner in 2015.

Interestingly, while browsing through a cook book the church had published some 30 years ago, on its 50th anniversary, she was amused to find the King Ranch Casserole among the recipes! The casserole dates back to who knows when. Sadly, the history and origin of King Ranch Chicken casserole is unknown.

While the name invokes that epic south Texas ranch, which covers more ground than the state of Rhode Island, the ranch claims no ownership on this recipe. Some say someone tacked on the name “King Ranch” because that ranch is emblematic of the state itself, in both its size and its myth. Yet one has to ask why the recipe calls for chicken, when both the ranch and the state are known for beef.

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