Serves 50

Judy Bailey King Ranch CasseroleIngredients:
4 cooked chickens, boned, and shredded
4 cups chopped green pepper
4 cups chopped onion
2 cups butter
8 cans cream of chicken soup
8 cans cream of mushroom soup
4 cans Rotel tomatoes
2 cans green chilies, chopped
48 corn tortillas, broken, or cut, into bite size pieces
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese

King Ranch Casserole PrepDirections:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Saute green pepper and onion in melted butter, just until translucent. Set aside until time to assemble the casserole

3. Layer components, in this order, into a 9×13 casserole:
   Bottom: tortillas
    Second: chicken
    Third: Liquids
    Fourth: Veggies (Note: The veggies can be combined with the liquid, as Lea has done here. She likes the distribution better when stirred together).
    Fifth: Cheddar cheese

4. Bake 45-60 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the cheese to set up.

In the photos to the left, you see Lea making the casserole for a church dinner in 2015. While browsing through our church’s cookbook published some 30 years earlier, during a break, she was amused to find the King Ranch Casserole! The history and origin of King Ranch Chicken casserole is unknown. While the name invokes that epic south Texas ranch, which covers more ground than the state of Rhode Island, the ranch claims no ownership on this recipe. Some say someone tacked on the name “King Ranch” because that ranch is emblematic of the state itself, in both its size and its myth. Yet one has to ask why the recipe calls for chicken, when both the ranch and the state are known for beef.

Judy Bailey served us this delicious cheesy mixture at a small gathering at her home in Kona, Hawaii, in 2009, and offered Pico de Gallo and a combination of equal parts of ground cumin, chili pepper, and paprika, to sprinkle on top. What a wonderful layer of additional flavor!. Yum! This is great comfort food!