Monday, November 23, 2009

A blast from the past....good ole King Ranch Chicken

Way back in the early 90s when I thought cooking consisted of throwing a frozen meal in a microwave and pushing start or making spaghetti with sauce out of a jar, my friend Maria introduced me to one of the first real things that I learned to cook...King Ranch Chicken.  In fact, for a while, I think that it was the only thing that I knew how to cook! I'm sure that she had gotten the recipe from her mother, but for whatever reason, it was never made in my house when I was growing up.  Over the years, I've noticed that King Ranch Chicken has made an appearance in just about every church cookbook that I've ran across (including the one that my church recently put out), and there are quite a few versions out there (Southern Living must have had at least 5 over the years).  Some of them stray away from using condensed soups, and some of them have several layer which makes it some sort of tortilla lasagna.  I'm not a big fan of the layers because the chips end up super soggy.  

Since my cooking repertoire has grown, I honestly don't think that I've made it since the 90s, but I was thinking chicken and casseroles today, and it immediately came to mind.  Something about the cold weather just makes me long for a nice, warm casserole (and a trip to the tanning bed, too!).

What's not to like in King Ranch Chicken?  You've got Doritos (in this version anyway), cheese, and a mixture that my friends and I used to refer to as "barf" since it really does look like it, and not to mention how incredibly easy it is to make this dish that will feed you forever when you are a poor college student.  And well, even though I'm in my 30s now, I am a college student at least for a little while longer!  

Tonight, it's just me and the Tar Heels on TV night since Rick won't be coming over.  I don't blame him, though.  I've got to get up very early in the morning for my last clinical!  I'm going to miss my preceptor, Susan, and all of the wonderful nurses at Roper St. Francis labor and delivery!

"The barf"

My version of King Ranch Chicken evolved over the years as my cooking knowledge has. It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but it's still a simple, super comfort food. I've attempted to make it not-so-bad-for-you by using reduced fat cheddar cheese and soups.

 King Ranch Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use Campbell's low fat)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Campbell's low fat)

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 bag of regular Doritos (coarsely crumbled)
2 cups reduced fat (2%) cheddar cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350F.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil and add chicken.  Saute until it is cooked and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the pan and place on a towel-covered plate to drain.  Add green pepper, onion, and garlic to the pan and saute until soften. 

While the chicken is cooking, combine the soups, Rotel tomatoes, and cilantro to a pot and heat over medium-low heat.  When the green pepper, onions, and garlic have finished cooking, mix with the soup.

In a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, add chicken and then cover with the soup mixture.  Add a layer of Doritos and then top with cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes uncovered or until the mixture is bubbling.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie, thank you so much for writing about RO*TEL. We love this recipe and think you should enter it into our recipe contest for a chance to win $2,000. For more info visit

    - The RO*TEL Across America Team


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