KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE
1/2 stick (4 TB) melted butter.......................................1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (or whatever color you have on hand)
1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion…............….2 cups shredded Mexican cheese (or more)
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded.........1 TB fresh cilantro, chopped
OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup (can be low fat)
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom or celery soup (can be low fat)
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel-style Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
8-10 flour tortillas, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt and/or black pepper, if needed
NOTE: The generic and Hatch brands of Rotel-style diced tomatoes & green chilies are about $.25 cheaper per can for same product. Generic is usually mild, and Hatch has different heat levels (mine was medium)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 13x9” baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
If you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, I put 4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs into a pot of salted water (covering the chicken by about 3-4”); bring to a boil; then lower the heat and let it simmer for about 1/2 hour or until cooked. (Then save the fresh broth in the refrigerator or freezer to use another night.)
Put the rest of the ingredients (except the cheese and tortillas) into a large bowl; mix until blended well. Then, add your shredded or chopped chicken and stir in. (Taste to see if you need to add salt & pepper ~ there may be enough in the soups and tomatoes.)
Layer one-third each of tortillas, then chicken mixture and then cheese evenly in dish. Repeat layers twice more (ending with cheese). (At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate to bake later. Take out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before baking.) Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let it sit a few minutes before cutting. I like to add more chopped fresh cilantro on top too.
Serves 6-8 (Good with a crisp green salad with tomatoes and light vinaigrette or Cilantro Pesto dressing ~ also good with a citrus fruit salad)
TIP: I will sometimes cut the recipe in half and use a 8" or 9" square pan. Just use one of the cream soups, and half of the amount of chicken, peppers, onions, butter, tortillas and cheese. I still use the whole can of Rotel tomatoes (may need to add a touch more cheese then, if it seems too liquidy).