King Ranch Casserole
This cheesy chicken and tortilla casserole is comfort food in Texas. We keep its mildly spicy flavor but rework the recipe without the usual canned soup.
Why This Recipe Works
King Ranch Casserole is the ultimate comfort food in Texas: layers of tender chicken, corn tortillas, and spicy tomatoes bound together in a rich, cheesy sauce. Most recipes start with one can each of cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup. We wanted a King Ranch Casserole recipe that captured the dish’s mildly spicy flavor but didn’t include the usual canned soup. To achieve this, we started our recipe’s sauce with onions, chiles, cumin, and canned tomatoes. Instead of discarding the juice when we drained the tomatoes, we reduced the liquid to intensify the tomato flavor. Flour added thickness, cream added richness, and chicken stock gave the sauce even more flavor. Partially poaching the chicken before layering it with the tortillas and cheese guaranteed it was perfectly cooked by the time the rest of the King Ranch Casserole had cooked through. And crisping the tortillas in the oven kept them from turning to mush in the casserole.