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Sunday, January 15, 2012

King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese

A riff on King Ranch Chicken Casserole, a quintessential Texan potluck dish, this mac and cheese is just as creamy and comforting as you'd expect the casserole itself to be.  As a matter of fact, I've never even made the casserole...though it's something I've "meant" to make.  It's still on my list, but until then I'm happy as a pig in mud to eat another serving of this sinful dish.  When I received the January issue of Southern Living in the mail, this was on the cover.  It reminded me that Kim made it last month...and I wanted it.

So, I really started to wonder where King Ranch Chicken Casserole got its name...what are its roots.  And the best I answer I found is:  it's murky.  Huh.  One common thought is that it originates from the actual King Ranch in Texas.  This is a charge they deny.  Another theory is that it's size (think large casserole) relates to the wide open spaces of Texas.  Or perhaps it comes from a Tex-Mex twist on Chicken a la King (this idea comes from Lisa, The Homesick Texan...and it's as good a guess as any).  Which reminds me.  I've never talked about Chicken a la King here- and I LOVE it.  L.O.V.E.  LOVE it.  It's going on my reminder list.  Yes, I have numerous lists.  So many lists, in fact, that I think I should be called King Ranch List-Maker.  No?  Yeah, that was bad.  Anyway.

I don't know its exact origins.  And I'm okay with that.  As long as I can eat it.
King Ranch Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: entree side pasta cheese American Southwest

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 8 oz. cavatappi pasta
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
  • 8 oz. Velveeta, cut into chunks
  • 3 c. chopped, cooked chicken
  • 1 (10¾ oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Preaheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 11"x7" dish or a 10" cast-iron skillet. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes w/ green chiles and Velveeta; cook, stirring constantly until Velveeta melts, 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chili powder, and cumin along with the reserved pasta. Pour or spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
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p.s... Yes, this contains Velveeta and condensed soup.  Throw caution to the wind and make it anyway.  If you like creamy, comforting mac and cheese with a hit of spice and juicy chunks of chicken, then you won't be disappointed.

I am sharing this post with:
PPN #247 hosted at Cook. Craft. Enjoy.

Would you like to comment?

  1. So trashy but so good! Actually, Paul has been reminiscing about chicken a la king recently. I don't think I have ever even tried it!

  2. It does have my "comfort genes"  jumping up and down!  Perfect for our freezing winter here in Halifax Nova Scotia.  Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  3. How interesting, this mac recipe. I grew up in Texas and have always known King Ranch Chicken as a similar dish with corn tortilla pieces layered between the other ingredients. Not a pasta dish, in other words.

  4. I remember velvet being in the fridge when I was a kid, I don't recall seeing it at the grocery store lately...but I do remember it well:D

  5. Que plato tan delicioso. Me lo llevo.


  6. Yes, it's a spin-off of the original King Ranch Chicken Casserole - that's what I was trying to yammer-on about in the first couple of paragraphs ;)

  7. Yes, I do love trashy food now and again.  Chicken a la King is total childhood comfort food for me.

  8. Hi Heather,
    This is after my Texas Heart, I may even make it today, we are going to love your King Ranch Mac N Cheese deep in the heart of Texas! Thanks for sharing, and have a wonderful week.
    Miz Helen

  9. I wouldn't bet the ranch on it but I have a sneaky feeling I've seen this recipe in some form in a vintage Velveeta cookbook. Just made a list to check into it:)

    Thanks for sharing, Heather. It's looking mighty good to me!!!

  10. Yeah, I suppose that's possible, Louise.  Although the actual recipe called for "pasteurized processed cheese" and not Velveeta (by name). So....??? Let me know if you find any more info on its origins!

  11. Anything that includes the glory of melted cheese is delicious in my does this look good!

  12. Back when I was first starting to cook, I made King Ranch casserole for my family, cream of soups and all.  And they adored it.  Of course.  I think that was probably the most positive feedback I've gotten on a recipe from them...ever.  I NEED to make them this.

  13. I LOVE king ranch casserole! This mac and cheese must be amazing!

  14. I take issue with people calling this kind of food trashy, lol. We ALL love mac and cheese made with Velveeta (or American cheese). My theory is, is that you can throw all kinds of EXPENSIVE cheese's at this kind of recipe, but if it doesn't ring the right bells, it is money wasted!! We love comfort food and THIS is comfort food. Great recipe.

  15. Yay, I was going to make King ranch ... later this week, lol .. love your version. I'm with Lisa I think it's a kin to chicken a la king. I have family that has worked on King Ranch all their lives and they always say "what??" when people ask about this dish,,lol !! Hubby loves this.. yummy!

  16. Feel like finshing that whole plate..

  17. This looks great!  Thanks so much for sharing with us on Presto Pasta Night :)

  18.  At all.This wouldn't last very long. No matter where it's from!

  19. Oh Valveeta! I haven't heard that ingredient in ages. It's that special ingredient that makes mac and cheese so creamy.

  20. How is it possible that I have lived my entire life and never heard of this incredible thing??? Omg, it has everything I like in it. Thank you for opening my eyes to this! yumma yumma yumma

  21. I've been to the King Ranch in Texas and can't imagine that the name would mean anything other than originating from there.  A version of this recipe has been around for years and years ... isn't it absolutely wonderful.  I really should make it soon ... well, once I'm feeling skinny again.  :)

  22. This looks just ridiculously great!  Rich, luscious and oh so good with all that cheese and seasonings.