Updated: Apr 15
I base my recipe on First Lady, Mrs. Lyndon B. (Lady Bird) Johnson's, classic from the 1960’s. I replace the margarine with butter, throw in a can of diced chiles for extra heat, add sliced scallions and parsley for extra green, and I leave out the chicken stock so the whole thing doesn't get too runny. I'll frequently make one and a half times the recipe if I've got a group of 5 or 6 and some of them are big guys. This recipe is a website exclusive, you won't see it in my new cookbook!
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
Makes 6 to 8 servings
(This is my recipe. Lady Bird's original recipe is further down in this post.)
2 tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
18 ounces (2 packages) pre-cooked carved chicken breast, cut bite-sized
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 can (10 ounces) Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts
16 corn tortillas, quartered
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, add diced chicken. Season with chili powder and heat through, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook till softened, 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, chiles, soups. Stir and simmer till incorporated, 5 minutes. Add parsley and scallions, stir.
In prepared baking dish, spread a few tablespoons of heated soup mixture, layer 1/3 tortillas. Making sure soup mixture covers edges of all tortillas as you go, layer 1/2 chicken, 1/3 cheese, 1/2 remaining soup mixture. Layer 1/3 tortillas, last 1/2 chicken, 1/3 cheese, last 1/3 tortillas, last 1/2 remaining soup mixture, last 1/3 cheese.
Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes then serve to whoops and hollers.
Here is Lady Bird Johnson's original recipe, as provided by the White House:
A rib-sticking Texas delicacy.
First Lady Mrs. Lyndon B. (Lady Bird) Johnson's 1960’s recipe for...
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
¼ CUP MARGARINE
1 LARGE ONION, CHOPPED
1 CAN RO-TEL TOMATOES
1 CAN CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP
1 CAN CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
1 CUP CHICKEN STOCK
10 CORN TORTILLAS
2 CUPS DICED COOKED CHICKEN
1 CUP GRATED LONGHORN CHEESE
PREHEAT OVEN TO 3OO DEGREES
IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN, MELT MARGARINE OVER MEDIUM HEAT, ADD ONION AND COOK UNTIL TRANSPARENT. ADD TOMATOES, SOUPS AND STOCK. COOK, STIRRING UNTIL THICKENED.
IN A LARGE FLAT CASSEROLE, LAYER TORTILLAS, CHICKEN AND SAUCE. TOP WITH CHEESE AND BAKE 30 MINUTES. SERVES 6