07 February 2013 6:56 AM
Our Favorite Casserole, redux

We had a roast chicken last night with lots of yummy leftovers.  After going back and forth on how to repurpose the chicken, I went to my old standby, King Ranch Chicken Casserole.  I got this out of a Southern Living magazine years ago and they titled it, “Our Favorite Casserole”.  And it became ours too.  We used to eat it all the time which is why it is in my recipe file.  But I haven’t made it in, oh say, three years – the same time we stopped buying Cream of XXX soup.

Tonight I decided to test the waters with an updated, locavore friendly version.  Replacing the Cream of XXX soup with a homemade roux and using mostly local ingredients, except for the Grass Fed New Zealand Cheddar.

And the result – most delicious.  The flour tortillas got very crispy on top giving added texture.  They were actually better than corn.  The addition of one diced smoked Andouille Sausage gave the entire casserole a lovely south by southwest feel.  Further discussion resulted in endless variation ideas using the same simple method.  Feel free to riff on a good thing.  Give it a go, it’s worth it.

 

King Ranch Chicken Casserole, for the grass fed  enthusiast.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole, kinda

Main Ingredients:
Leftover Roast Chicken, chopped (about 3 cups)
Andouille Sausage, diced, optional (we had one leftover)
3 c grated sharp cheddar cheese,  preferably grass fed
2-3 flour tortillas cut into strips, homemade if you have them, but a good organic store bought variety will do in a pinch.  We used to use corn, but don’t want to eat the GMO stuff and I don’t make those yet.

Cream of XXX soup:
2 T butter (Kerrygold -- making it from raw cream has become too expensive)
2 T AP flour (Bulk from Cloverdale)
½ c chicken stock (we used two cubes of frozen stock jello dissolved in ½ c hot water to cover)
½ c whole milk (raw if you can get it and want to – you know who you are)

Sauce:
1 T butter
1 small-ish onion, chopped (TJ's cause we finished last seasons onions in November)
1 small-ish green pepper, chopped (we used frozen from the 2012 garden harvest)
1 clove garlic (from last seasons last bulb)
1 12-oz jar Rotel style tomatoes & peppers (I canned this last summer – just use Rotel, or a mixture of 8-oz chopped tomatoes + 4-oz diced green chilies or pickled jalapeno)
½ t dried oregano (next year this will be mine!)
½ t cumin
½ t Mexican-style chili powder (or a scant t regular chili powder + a pinch cayenne)
Cream of XXX Soup

Preheat oven to 375°.

First make your “Cream of XXX” soup.  Melt 2 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk for about 2 minutes to cook the flour taste out of the flour.  Whisk in stock and milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, until thickened.

In a frying pan, melt the 1 T butter.  Add the onion and sauté 5-7 minutes until beginning to soften.  Add green pepper for 2-ish minutes & then the garlic.  Sauté until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the tomatoes & spices.  We added the Andouille Sausage here to get some moisture back into it.  Once the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, add the Cream of XXX soup.  Stir, bring back to a little simmer, and remove from stove.

In your smaller casserole dish, layer the following:  ½ chicken, ½ sauce, 1/3 cheese, ½ tortillas.  Repeat.  Top with the final 1/3 cheese.

Bake in a 375° oven for 45 minutes.  Once everything is bubbly, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.  Enjoy!

O


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