Saturday, February 02, 2008

King Ranch Casserole

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (April 2007)

I heavily modified this recipe, which I will describe more below.

I really liked how this turned out. I have tried some of the chicken casseroles from Cover & Bake, and this seemed a little bit easier and less rich to me. It was spicy and flavorful, and I liked the reddish creamy sauce. I always like casseroles in the winter, so I can see myself making this again. The prep took a while, but really, there was some free time in there where I was able to clean up in my kitchen, so it didn't feel like a lot of work.

I didn't want to make as much to serve 8 people, and I wanted it to be a little bit lighter. However, it is by no means a "light" recipe. I just know that ATK casserole recipes often are too "saucy" for me and also the sauces that use cream, are often to rich for me. So I adjusted accordingly - using less cream, less cheese and more tomatoes. I have some ideas for future changes so I am going to record the ingredients here. I think I will skip the jalapeno in the future and just use pepper jack cheese in addition to using a diced tomato with chiles in it.

My Version of King Ranch Casserole

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 15-ounce) can petite diced tomato with chiles
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 15 oz can low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 cups Pepper Jack cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
1 cup Fritos, crushed (about 3 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Spray tortillas with cooking spray, and bake on sheet until slightly crisp and browned, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then break into bite-sized pieces.

3. Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onions with 1/2 t. salt and cumin until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

4. Add tomatoes and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

5. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.

6. Add broth and cream, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

8. Add cilantro and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.

9. Scatter half of tortilla pieces in 2 quart casserole or baking dish. (Place on rimmed baking sheet if pan may overflow). Spoon half of filling evenly over tortillas. Repeat.

10. Bake until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

11. Sprinkle Fritos evenly over top and bake until Fritos are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

12. Cool casserole 10 minutes. Serve.

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