It is a good thing that jalapeno peppers are vegetables. Sometimes it seems like the only green item that shows up on my plate. It counts though, right?
Tonight’s dinner was one of my favorite traditional Texas recipes that involved plenty of jalapeno peppers: King Ranch Casserole. This casserole is like a giant flat enchilada. The pulled chicken, spicy peppers, and melty cheese are so good you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Tex Mex heaven. I have modified the recipe from one of my most coveted cookbooks, Homesick Texan, by the talented Lisa Fain. She showcases the most traditional Texas cuisine with a fresh, modern approach. I have made a few changes to her recipe, but the credit should go to her. Here is how you make a real finger-lickin’, boot-stompin’ King Ranch Casserole. It is one of the best casserole recipes in the world, if you ask me.
- 1 lb shredded cooked chicken breast
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 jalapenos, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 10-oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 small can of diced green hatch chili peppers
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
The hardest part of this recipe is preparing all of the ingredients. I started by boiling my chicken breasts — the best way to prepare them for shredding– while chopping all of my veggies. I put the veggies all in one big bowl to keep things neat and organized. Once everything is prepared, melt the butter over medium heat and add the veggies. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
When the vegetables are tender and fragrant, add the chili, cayanne, cumin, chicken broth, tomatoes, and hatch chilis. Let this cook for about 5 more minutes until the broth begins to thicken and steam. Eventually this mixture will be the “sauce” of your casserole.
When you are ready, add 1 cup of half and half and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. The half and half balances out the spices of the peppers and gives the casserole a creamy, smooth finish. It especially accents the sweet poblano pepper. While this is cooking, now is a great time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next, ladle a spoonful of this sauce onto the bottom of your casserole dish to keep the tortillas from sticking. Next, place a layer of tortillas around the casserole dish, covering every part. You can tear tortillas into pieces to ensure even coverage.
Layer the ingredients in the following order: tortillas, chicken, sauce, cheese. Do this twice until the casserole is topped with cheese and ready to be put in the oven.
Cook at 350 for 30 minutes. I used this opportunity to do about 5,000 chores around the house and 30 minutes flew by in no time!
Let it cool for about 10 minutes and serve.
We loved this casserole and enjoyed it with a side of slow cooker pinto beans.. The casserole is full of colorful peppers, tender corn tortillas, and savory chicken and cheese. The cumin and spices add that extra “wow!” to the dish that differentiates this casserole from other run-of-the-mill chicken casseroles. I think you are going to love this recipe!
Even if you are living in an apartment in New York, you can enjoy the best Texas recipes right in your kitchen. This is an amazing casserole that lasts all week and provides just the right amount of comfort at dinner during these busy Spring months.
Have a great week, y’all! See you next Monday!