King Ranch Chicken, or Holy Cream of Mushroom Soup!

My sweet neighbors Verlene and Debbi have been bringing over food all week to celebrate the new baby. Debbi even got her 87 year old aunt to cook dishes for us too, even though we've never met her. Our fridge currently resembles a Southern church potluck - baked ham and beans, ambrosia salad, kinda weird but tasty Frito & squash casserole, pimento mac n' cheese . . . I could go on, because that's not even half of it.

Debbi said tomorrow she's bringing over King Ranch Chicken for us. For those of you not from around here, I must introduce you to this quintessential Texas casserole - I guarantee that every Texas cook has a version of this recipe in their repertoire. It's sort of like a creamy enchilada casserole. My own recipe was passed down from my grandmother to my mom to me. My recipe is scribbled on the inside cover of my tattered a Corpus Christi Junior League cookbook, which I will share with you here:

King Ranch Chicken

1 large fryer, cut up
1 pound velveeta, cut into small pieces
1 small can cut up green chiles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 dozen yellow corn tortillas
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Boil chicken in water for 25 - 30 minutes, and reserve broth. Debone chicken and cut into chunks.
  3. Saute celery and onion in oil until tender. Add soups, chiles and Ro-Tel, plus one cup of reserved broth and the cubed velveeta.
  4. Cut tortillas into quarters. Dip each piece into chicken broth to moisten and line a 9" x 13" pan with one layer. Put in half of the chicken pieces and 1/3 of the sauce. Then repeat layer. End with a final layer of tortillas and the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.
  5. Cover with foil and place in oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Usually I tend to shy away from recipes involving cream of mushroom soup and velveeta, but I gotta tell you, this one is pure comfort food for me. There are so many different versions of this recipe - even ones that use real cheese and soup from scratch, but this is one case where I think it doesn't matter.

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