Sunday, September 11, 2011
The past week has been unseasonably cool here in Atlanta. I am not normally one to be wishing away summer, but the break in heat was actually pretty nice - especially being 9 months pregnant. We were still feeling the effects a tropical storm, so the weather was drizzly and cool, and comfort food was in order. So this was actually a really great choice for this week's Project Pastry Queen recipe.
I'd heard of King Ranch Chicken before, but never really had the desire to make it myself - until I saw Rebecca Rather's completely-from-scratch version. She even goes so far as to make her own chicken stock for it! I didn't go that far, since I had just made 32 cups of chicken stock a few weeks ago. So I took the easy way out and used that and just bought a rotisserie chicken.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole is essentially a chicken tortilla casserole - it is creamy, spicy, and cheesy. How bad could that be? You build a cream sauce from scratch instead of opening a can of cream of whatever soup. It starts with a stick (!) of butter, then peppers, onions, and mushrooms are sauteed. You add flour to thicken the sauce, then whisk in chicken stock and some cream (or milk, or half-and-half) and let it simmer to thicken a bit. The sauce is then layered with corn tortillas, cheese, and chopped chicken. After baking, you are left with a completely comforting casserole.
The recipe makes a 9x13 inch casserole, but I split it up and froze half for an easy meal for when the baby comes. I'd also like to note that it calls for New Mexican Hatch Chiles, and while normally I would just use a poblano instead, they are in season right now and The Fresh Market is awesome, so I was able to get my hands on some. We loved the tangy-spicy flavor they contributed, and I plan to go buy more to roast and freeze so I can enjoy them year-round.
Jody of Savory to Sweet has the full recipe posted if you're interested in making this. And you should be, because it is pretty awesome!