King Ranch Casserole
King Ranch Casserole featuring Hatch Chiles
Texans are quite familiar with the King Ranch Casserole. It’s basically our version of lasagna (instead of pasta we use corn tortillas, instead of mascarpone we use sour cream mushroom sauce, instead tomatoes we use Rotel with green chilies, instead of mozzarella we use cheddar/Monterrey jack.) I mentioned earlier Louis Lambert’s cookbook “Big Ranch, Big City” and I also highlighted that it is Hatch Chili season. I adapted this recipe from his version of “Creamy Chicken Casserole with Hatch Chiles”. Froze half for use in the fall.
This recipe takes no short cuts so you poach your chicken; create scratch broth and mushroom sour cream sauce. The payoff is worth it because the flavors are amazing combining earthiness from the cumin, roasted hatch chilies and jalapenos, the creaminess from the cheeses and sour cream mushroom sauce, the heat from the cayenne, chilies, jalapenos, Tabasco, and the heartiness from the chicken. Comfort dish for the fall , winter and for company.
3 chicken breasts
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 stalks of celery (diced)
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tps dried oregano
1 bay leaf
5 shakes of Tabasco
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups of water
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups of diced mushrooms
¼ cup All Purpose Flour
1 can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)
1 cup of Sour Cream
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
8 scrapes of fresh nutmeg
8 Roasted Hatch Chiles (skinned, seeded and diced)
2 diced and seeded jalapenos
1 cup of cilantro (we use more than most might)
2 cups of cheddar cheese (freshly shredded – no packaged stuff)
1 cup of Monterrey jack cheese (freshly shredded – no packaged stuff)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
Directions: Poach your chicken by adding everything in a large pot and bring it to a boil. I tried Lambert’s technique of cooking for 5mins, then covering it for 1min and then turn off the heat and let it cook through for about an hour. I have never tried it this way. Let it cool and then pull your chicken out and cube it up or pull it into chunks. Strain the liquid and save the veggies and 2.5 cups of liquid. Save the rest for future use.
Preheat 350. Now make the sour cream mushroom sauce by putting a skillet on high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 4mins. Add your butter and let it melt then your flour until it is paste / rue like. Now add the chicken stock you set aside and the vegetables you removed from the strainer. You will reduce this while stirring for a 10mins. Now add your Rotel, sour cream, Hatch chiles and Cilantro and let it cook for a few minutes to incorporate fully. Remove from heat and set aside.
Assemble: you should have three bowls with chicken, the sauce and your shredded cheese. Hit your tortillas on a skillet for a minute to soften them. Take a 9×13 greased plan you will make three layers. Tortillas, 1/3 of mixture, then cheese… repeat twice more and bake it covered for 15mins and then 30mins uncovered to brown the cheese.