King Ranch casserole is a Texas version of lasagna. If you love chicken and chiles, cheese and peppers, you will love this casserole. My family sure did!
6 T butter or olive oil, plus more to grease the pan
1 1/2 c chopped onion
1 c chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can green chilies, drained OR 1 c chopped poblanos OR BOTH!
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 T chile powder (I like ancho)
1 T ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1 /2 t fresh ground black pepper or more to taste
3/4 t smoked paprika
1/4 c flour
1 3/4 c chicken stock (I use Better Than Bouillion and make my own)
1 t liquid hickory smoke or more to taste
1 10 oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles, drained OR 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained, and 1 4 oz can of green chiles
1 1/2 c sour cream
5 c shopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 c fresh cilantro, chopped
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I like the Jalapeno Jack version)
2 c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
18 corn tortillas, cooked until crisp or tostada shells from the grocery
Cooking Spray for the tortillas
Melt the butter or oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Stir for 1 minute.
Sprinkle the flour over the veggie mixture and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the stock and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture thickens, which could take 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in liquid smoke, drained tomatoes and sour cream. Add chicken and cilantro and stir until blended. (Feel free to make this the day before if you want to do this in stages.)
Combine cheeses together in a large mixing cup.
Spray corn tortillas with cooking spray and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes. You will have to do this in two batches. (Or try buying tostada shells and let me know how they work!) when finished baking, turn the oven temperature down to 375.
Grease the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover with 6 tortillas, overlapping slightly. Top with 1/2 the chicken mixture and 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat the layers once, adding 6 more tortillas, the chicken and the cheese. Top with remaining tortillas and the cheese.
Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray or oil and cover the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
Uncover the casserole and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until golden and bubbly.
Let casserole stand for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Garnish with more cilantro or pickled jalapenos!
Slightly adapted from Leite’s Culinaria.
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