King Ranch Chicken Casserole!

"King Ranch Chicken Casserole" is a dish we have been making in the South for many years and there are as many different recipes as there are for things like cornbread or chicken and dumplings!  Everybody has a recipe and an opinion on this one.  I pretty much make it like we have since we first started making it way back when.  There are newer recipes that make a sauce and skip the canned soups and I have actually tried a few of those.  They are good, but I always come back to this old, tried and true recipe.   I just think it's the best.   I have tweaked it just a bit through the years, but not much really.

The story has been that this originated at the actual King Ranch in Texas, but then some say they don't actually claim it, so who knows!  I do know it's really good so it's always a winner!   Here is what you will need:

4 cups chopped cooked chicken (I use chicken breast meat, but you can use a whole chicken)
3 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 (10 oz.) can of Rotel tomatoes and chillis (do not drain)
1 (10  3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10  3/4 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup
16 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut in cubes
1  (15 oz.) can chicken broth
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup sour cream
dash of hot sauce to taste (I used Tabasco sauce)
12 (six inch) taco sized flour or corn tortillas, cut in chip size triangles (I used flour)
2 cups crushed tortilla chips (I used Tostitos)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet saute the garlic, onion, and bell pepper in the butter until tender. 

Add the diced chicken, Rotel, soups, Velveeta cheese cubes, chicken broth, black pepper, and chili powder.  Heat on low until the Velveeta has melted, stirring to combine it all.  Add the hot sauce to taste if you are adding it.  Temper the sour cream by adding some of the hot mixture to it a little at a time and stirring.   This brings it to room temperature and keeps it from curdling when you add it to the hot mixture.   Add to the hot mixture and stir.  You can turn the heat off at this point. 

Layer half of the tortillas cut in triangles in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish you have sprayed with nonstick spray.

Pour half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas.  Layer the other half of the tortillas and the rest of the chicken over those again.

Sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips over the top.  This is where I changed up the original recipe a little, but I like the nice crunch it gives the top.

Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese!  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

It should be just starting to brown on top and nice and bubbly!

Garnish with chopped green onion or fresh cilantro!

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