Entree/ Pasta/ Poultry

King Ranch Pasta

Who doesn’t like the flavors of King Ranch!

I’ve always thought I made absolutely the best King Ranch casserole out there.

When we first moved to Texas and I started catering for some of the local companies and I had request for King Ranch casserole. I’d never heard of King Ranch casserole and didn’t realize that it was named after one of the largest ranches in the world and it’s here in Texas.

So, I set about trying to find what I thought would be the perfect recipe. I never found just one and ended up merging several recipes together to come up with what I thought was the perfect sauce. The addition of spices and spinach to the sauce makes this a favorite with King Ranch lovers.

My family never liked casseroles and I cannot believe that in 20 years of catering, I never made the casserole for my family.

I’ve decided to turn my casserole into King Ranch Pasta. NOT a casserole but a creamy mixture of chicken, spices and sauce mixed with pasta and baked in an oven for 30 minutes. If you want to make the casserole with tortilla, see below for those instructions.

Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, think of this recipe when you have a lot of left over turkey staring back at you from the refrigerator.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Souffled French Onion Soup — If you love French Onion Soup you will love this one topped with a cheese soufflé. Believe it or not, the soufflé does not fall while you are eating the soup.

Easy ingredients for a “throw together” dinner.

Chopped onions get sautéed in olive oil or butter.

Everything else simply gets dumped in to the onions along with the sour cream and chicken broth if needed to thin.

Chicken gets added to the sauce and then the fresh (or frozen spinach). If making into casserole with tortillas I would use the whole chicken.

Cook pasta of choice until al dente.

Stir pasta into sauce. If too thick, add in some of the reserved chicken broth.

Pour into baking dish, cover with foil and bake. I put my in two small baking dishes and froze one to be brought out after the other knee surgery. Just one thing my husband won’t have to cook.

King Ranch Spaghetti

1 whole chicken, boiled, chopped or shredded (reserve 2 cups broth)
1 c. onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 c. sour cream
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Rotel Tomatoes (tomatoes with green chiles)
1/2 pkg. fresh spinach, cut in thin strips
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 lb. pkg. spaghetti

Put the chicken in water and boil until tender. Remove chicken, cool and chop or shred and set aside.

Saute the onion in the olive oil until wilted, about 5-6 minutes. Add the green chiles, sour cream, mushroom soup, Rotel tomatoes and spices.

Cook the spaghetti in the broth until al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the brother for later in case you need to thin the sauce.

Put the cooked spaghetti in a large bowl, stir in the sauce, the spinach and 1 cup of the cheese. If it looks too thick add some of the reserved chicken broth. Put the spaghetti in a greased baking dish (I didn’t say casserole 🙂 ) top with remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake in 350° oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.**

**Tip:To keep your cheese from sticking to the foil (I just hate that), spray the foil with cooking spray. Works every time.

To use the sauce for the traditional King Ranch Casserole– Put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your 9 x 11″ pan. I always dipped my corn tortillas into the chicken broth for a quick soak. Tear up about 5-6 corn tortillas after you have dipped in the broth and put this on top of the sauce. Follow with some chopped up chicken, more soaked and torn corn tortillas, more chicken and end with sauce and then cheese. I never put cheese in between the layers but if you want a more cheesy casserole feel free to add whatever cheese you may want. Bake until hot and bubbly. I use to make this the day before refrigerate and then bake the day I was serving. If you do that then baking time may be around 1 hour 15-20 minutes.


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