...Matthan's Favorite King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Sheila Killingsworth is not only my wonderful sister-in-law and friend, but she is currently writing a
book, How to Be Goldilocks in a Three Bear World: A Book of Survival. The book with the
intriguing title is based on real-life survival for today's woman
and addresses the multiple roles of Super-Wife,
Super-Mom, Super-Woman, and Super-
Business Person that today's woman is required
to juggle. She even tackles the role of Super-
Child who must care for aging parents.
Sheila graduated Oklahoma State University,
taught for many years and has since worked as
a manufacturer's representative and general
She resides in Oklahoma with her husband, Russ,
college-age Matthan and high schooler Leah.
When I asked her for a favorite family recipe, she had
no hesitation in passing this one along.
Granted, the King Ranch Chicken Casserole isn't
original with her son Matthan, but it has been tailored
through the years as it was passed down from his
paternal grandmother, the late Donna Jo Carroll Beard,
who held a Master’s Degree in Home Economics and
taught Food Services at Moore-Norman Vo-Tech until
This casserole is so named, “Matthan’s Favorite King
Ranch Chicken Casserole,” because it is his preferred
meal, prepared especially for him when he comes home
for a visit from Oklahoma State University, where he is a
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Nobody apparently knows the origins of Matthan's Favorite King Ranch Chicken Casserole,
except that the original recipe is part of the lore of the famous King Ranch, founded in South
Texas by Richard King (1824-1885).
King, born in New York City to Irish immigrants, spent most of his younger years working on
numerous steamboats throughout the South, ending up in Texas.
He first saw the land that When he arrived at the fair, King and Texas Ranger Captain Gideon K. "Legs" Lewis, agreed then
would become part of the
enormous King Ranch in
April 1852 as he traveled
north from Brownsville to
attend the Lone Star Fair in
Corpus Christi, a four day
trip by horseback. After a
grueling, hot and dusty ride,
King caught sight of the
Santa Gertrudis Creek, 124
miles from the Rio Grande.
It was the first stream he
had seen on the Wild Horse
Desert, undoubtedly a
welcome sight by itself, but
the land, shaded by large
mesquite trees, also
and there to purchase the 15,500-acre Mexican land grant then known as the Rincon de Santa
Gertrudis, the first acreage of what would eventually become the legendary 825,000-acre Texas
Richard's new bride Henrietta, daughter of Presbyterian
minister from back East, helped establish refinement as
a hallmark on the remote hostile land, and through the
years to come the King Ranch became known as much
for its warm hospitality and great food as for the Kings'
innovative, impressive ranching and farming operations.
As the home of 60,000 cattle and 300 Quarter Horses,
the King Ranch continues to be one of the largest
ranches in the world today and remain part of the myth and mystique of Texas and have been
featured in numerous fiction and non-fiction books. Don Graham's masterful Kings of Texas is one
of the most recent books to trace the 150-year history of the ranching empire through "decades of
conflict arising from the Mexican War, the Civil War, and countless skirmishes between Texas
Rangers and border bandits."
Though the origins of the casserole were apparently on the King Ranch, no one seems to know
who invented it. Many Mexicans traditionally worked on the ranch, and their chilaquilas, still a
staple dish of the area, contained chicken, chilies, tortillas, tomatoes and cheese.
Word of the dish spread from household to household, and after World War II and into the Fifties
when casseroles became even more popular. Today, more than ever, it is perfect for fast-paced
lifestyles. Your guests will ask for the recipe, guaranteed! Thanks to Sheila, you won't even have
to type it out, but can simply point people to Matthan's Favorite King Ranch Chicken
Casserole here at Karen's Kitchen. Better yet, make several copies of the Print-Friendly Version.
You will want them for friends and family.
Enjoy, South Texas-style!
|Matthan and Mom enjoy OSU
Matthan’s Favorite King Ranch Chicken Casserole
4 pounds chicken breast, cooked and diced*
6 Tablespoons chicken stock
12 corn tortillas
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup green peppers or chilies (diced)
1 cup onions (chopped)
1Tablespoon chili power
1 pound blend (4 cups) of shredded cheddar,
asadero, queso quesadilla and Monterey Jack
cheeses (Kraft's Mexican Style Four Cheese®)
½ of a 10 oz. can of Rotel® tomatoes, drained
(with or without green chilies)
Simmer chicken until tender, save stock. Dice
chicken meat. Spray 13" X 9" casserole dish with
cooking spray. Cut corn tortillas into quarters.
Line bottom and sides of casserole dish with half
of the quartered corn tortillas.
Sprinkle 3 Tablespoons of chicken stock over the
bottom layer of tortillas. Combine soups, onions,
green chilies (or green pepper), chili powder and Rotel® tomatoes in large bowl. Stir to mix
ingredients. Pour half of mixture, half of chicken and half cheese on tortillas.
Make a second layer of the remaining tortilla quarters. Add 3 Tablespoons chicken broth. Add
remainder of the chicken soup mixture and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, fresh green
salad and cornbread for a hearty, satisfying meal.
*As an option, you can use the meat from 2 whole roasted chickens and 6 Tablespoons of
canned chicken broth.
|Richard and Henrietta King