King Ranch Casserole

Hold on to your britches, Minnesotans, I’m about to introduce you to a new casserole, ahem, hot dish.  Forgive me for assuming you’ve never heard of this concoction but I had my socks knocked off when I learned about the immense popularity of this casserole as I consider myself pretty well-versed in the subject given my Midwestern upbringing.  I saw this dish on an episode of “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” and took to the internet to find out what it entailed, and it was the equivalent of discovering tator tot hot dish for the first time, with hundreds of recipes, variations and photos at the ready.

Let’s start with the name – King Ranch – a quick Google search will teach you that the source of this casserole’s name is unclear and unlikely named after the ranch that bears this name, mostly because it’s a cattle ranch and this dish is made with chicken.  I heard an interpretation that this casserole was made to serve the ranch hands working long days at King Ranch, but the owners deny that’s the case.  Whatever the reason for the name, it’s memorable.

So, what the heck is this dish?  First, it hails from Texas so it’s going to hit you with Mexican flavors and some heat.  That includes corn tortillas, chills, Rotel and chili powder.  Second, it’s a casserole/hot dish so it’s going to gooey and hearty and calorie-laden so just sit back and enjoy and pretend calories don’t exist.  This hot dish involves layering corn tortillas with chicken, cheese and a spicy white sauce, then baking for an hour.  Simple enough if you have a little time on your hands and don’t mind chopping vegetables (this meal includes an onion, green pepper, mushrooms, garlic and optional chilis) as well as the meat from a roasting chicken.

With no further ado – here it is folks – King Ranch Casserole!  It’s not the prettiest in presentation but my, is it delicious. 

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King Ranch Casserole
Serves 8
This casserole includes layers of corn tortillas, chicken, cheese and a spicy white sauce, baked together until heated through.
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1 white onion, diced
  3. 1 green pepper, diced
  4. 8 oz mushrooms, sliced and rough chopped
  5. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  6. 1 tsp kosher salt
  7. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  8. 3/4 tsp chili powder
  9. 1/2 cup cornstarch
  10. 3 cups chicken stock
  11. 1/2 cup whole milk or cream
  12. 10 oz can of Rotel
  13. 2-3 roasted green chilis, finely diced (optional)
  14. 18 tortillas
  15. 2 cups colby-jack cheese, shredded
  16. 1 whole roasted chicken, meat shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the onion, green pepper and mushrooms and cook until softened and translucent but not yet browned.
  3. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder, stirring to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the cornstarch and stir until absorbed and no longer white.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the pan, 1 cup at a time, stirring to combine. The sauce will be thick.
  7. Add the milk, Rotel and chills, stirring to combine.
  8. Spray a 9x11 baking pan with Pam, then layer with 6 tortillas (there will be overlap).
  9. Cover the layer of tortillas with 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/2 of the chicken and 1/3 the cheese.
  10. Cover this layer with 6 more tortillas, 1/3 of the sauce, the remaining 1/2 of the chicken and 1/3 of the cheese.
  11. Cover this with a final layer of 6 tortillas and spread the remaining 1/3 of the sauce over the tortillas to prevent them from drying out. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cheese over the top.
  12. Bake for 1 hour until bubbling and heated through.
  13. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. I save time by buying a rotisserie chicken from the store already cooked so all I need to do is remove and shred the meat.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Chicken Pad Thai

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Pad Thai from Sawatdee is one of our favorite meals so we set out to recreate it at home. We were able to find pieces of the restaurant’s original recipe online and with a few tries were able to get the flavor right. Following a great deal of recipe research and experimentation, we have found the perfect recipe.  The noodles are soft but not mushy, you can taste the egg without being overwhelmed by the flavor, and the sauce… oh the sauce.  It’s flavorful with mild heat, which can easily be turned up with the addition of more garlic chili sauce to meet your needs.

Please note that we use two 12 inch frying pans to cook this meal, so all ingredients should be prepared and put into two bowls for easy addition while cooking. If you use only one pan and cook all ingredients at one time you risk steaming the meal instead of frying it due to overcrowding of the pan.

Listen, I’ve come a long way on the path of exploring spicy food.  Two years ago I had never tasted Pad Thai for fear of the heat, and today, I cook it at home weekly with an increasing level of spice.

I’ve shared this recipe with a number of food lovers and confirmed it’s a keeper!  You won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Pad Thai
 
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Author: Bryna Krentz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • MAIN INGREDIENTS
  • 1 package Thai rice noodles (14-16oz)
  • I lb chicken breast, diced into 1 inch squares
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs, beaten, divided into two bowls
  • 1 package bean sprouts
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 6 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, crushed
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • SAUCE INGREDIENTS – IMPORTANT TO DIVIDE INGREDIENTS BELOW INTO 2 BOWLS
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp garlic chili sauce (red sauce found in the Asian aisle)
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • This recipe makes a mild “Minnesota spicy” dish – if you prefer something hotter, add more garlic chili sauce and chili flakes.
Instructions
  1. Remove noodles from packaging and place 1/2 each in an 11×17 pan. Cover with room temperature water and let sit for 90 minutes. Test noodles for “doneness” with the “finger test” – remove a noodle from water and wrap 2-3 times around your finger. Noodle should wrap easily and not be stiff.
  2. Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in a bowl, or in 2 bowls, dividing ingredients equally between the two.
  3. Dice chicken and season liberally with salt.
  4. Rinse bean sprouts with water and set aside.
  5. Prep all other ingredients and set aside in 2 bowls per ingredient.
  6. Heat two 10-12″ frying pans over medium heat. Add oil and heat.
  7. Add eggs to each pan and stir constantly. Add chicken when eggs are nearly cooked through and cook 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
  8. Add noodles to each pan, then add sauce and juice of 1/4 lemon. Stir noodles to combine ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce is absorbed.
  9. Add bean sprouts to pan, stirring to incorporate, cooking for 2-3 minutes until heated through.
  10. Add green onions and stir, cooking 2-3 minutes.
  11. Top dish with crushed peanuts and remove from heat. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve pad thai with lemon and lime wedges, additional crushed peanuts and sriracha sauce for additional heat.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers, which reheat well the next day.