King Ranch Mac n’ Cheese

King Ranch Casserole is as Texas comfort food as chicken fried steak and gravy.  The difference is, if you’ve never been to this giant state, you may of never heard of it.  Legend has it that the name comes from the “King Ranch”, one of the largest ranches in the United States…now no one knows the truth and every family and restaurant recipe varies, but they’re generally all made with the same few ingredients: chicken, diced tomatoes, onion, bell pepper and a creamy soup.  

Now here’s my tweak on it, instead of the normal layering of torn corn tortillas (lasagna style), I amped up the comfort level and made it into a ooey, gooey mac n’ cheese!!  Sooooo good and still Texas approved!

*A rotisserie chicken from your local grocer would work great for this as well.

**You can use a casserole dish to bake if you do not have an oven proof pan.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb chicken, cooked and chopped (2-3 cups)
  • 8oz macaroni noodles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (I like spicy)
  • 8oz block velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 8oz container sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if cooking your own chicken)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho/new mexico chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded 

Garnish

  • Tortilla chips (I fried up my own, but I’m crazy like that)
  • Cilantro, fresh   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you’re cooking your own chicken (not a store bought rotisserie), heat a 10″ oven proof pan to medium heat and add in the olive oil.  Once hot, add in the chicken and cook through.  *Since I made my own, I seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt & pepper.  

 Meanwhile, in a large stockpot of salted boiling water, cook your noodles.  Boil for about 2 minutes less than package directions, strain and set aside.  Also, prep the vegetables! 

  

After the chicken is cooked through, set aside.  Once cooled you can chop up into 1″ pieces.

In that same pan that you cooked the chicken in, melt the 2 Tbsp’s of butter and add in the onion, garlic & bell pepper and saute for a few minutes. 

 Next add in the can of diced green-chili tomatoes and cubed Velveeta cheese.  Stir till creamy.  

 Now whisk in the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chili powder, cumin.  Add in the chopped, cooked chicken.  

 Finally, carefully fold in the cooked pasta noodles and then top with the shredded cheese.  

   Move to the preheated oven and let bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly.  *If you do not have an oven safe pan, here is where you can pour into a casserole dish, top with cheese and then bake.  **Make sure to place a foil lined baking-sheet on the bottom rack to catch any oozey cheese!

Remove and top with the cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.  

  

  

  

 

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