King of the Ranch

Chicken that is. King Ranch Chicken. What’s ironic in terms of food wars, the cow ain’t laughing. A great 1950’s era dish, when moms were looking for ways to create shortcuts in cooking and time spent in the kitchen. But the more the shortcut in the kitchen, the more the kids wanted to be in the kitchen eating the creamed soup and cheesy casserole. I have to say, I cannot remember eating this, but it was comforting and I felt all gooey and sleepy- the way that macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes make you feel.

Food enthusiasts say that there is no real birth place for the King Ranch Chicken:

As far as anyone can tell, King Ranch chicken-or as it is sometimes known-King Ranch casserole, doesn’t have one single thing to do with the King Ranch…No one seems to know exactly where it started, but it has clearly taken on a life of its own…”I’ve lived here 31 years–and you know how women like to always collect recipes wherever they go?” asked Kathy Henry of the King Ranch visitor’s center in Kingsville. “Well, when I moved to Kingsville, the first one I got was for King Ranch chicken. So I know it has been here for at least 31 years.” But in all her time working for the sprawling King Ranch, Henry has never found a link between the popular casserole and the ranch. “We think it was developed in the 1950s”…”The word is, a lady in Robstown may have entered it in a national cooking contest like the Pillsbury or Campbell Soup contests. She didn’t win a big prize but maybe a second or third. She just named it King Ranch chicken because Robstown is in this area and she though it would be a catchy name.” it was. Henry said she has never been able to research the story, but whatever the case, she’s certain the dish was developed between 1945 and 1965. “That’s the best I can came up with,” she said.”
—“King Ranch chicken rules the roost,” Art Chapman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 2, 1999 (Food p. 1)

[NOTE: Mrs. A. E. Sommer’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole claimed 3rd prize in the 12th annual Press-Telegram Cook Book Contest [Long Beach, California], published September 4, 1966 (p. 19)]

I love casseroles, so I had no problem adding the creamy canned soups. Food purists will make their own cream sauce, but if you are short on time, this is easy to do and will be perfect for a potluck.

Now, onto my new cookbooks. I have created my menu for the week and will be looking at two books to go through February: “Best of the Best from TEXAS II Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Texas’ Favorite Cookbooks” and “The Texas Cowboy Cookbook: A History of Recipes and Photos” by Robb Walsh.

Menu (Includes this week and some from last week):

  • Corn Black Bean Salad
  • Linda Martin’s “Eyes of Texas” Salad
  • King Ranch Chicken
  • Chicken Cantonese
  • Soul Satisfying Chile
  • Chicken Fried Steak
  • T Bone Steak
  • A Cowboy’s Pie
  • Alligator Pear Salad
  • Rip’s Barbeque Chicken
  • Sunny Spinach Salad
  • Ribeye
  • Flat-Iron Steak and Sweet Potatoes

Whew! This is a low carb month menu. Seriously, last year we had all the potatoes and noodles we could eat and this year, we are consciously choosing dishes with less carbs, more protein, and definitely more organically grown products, just a little less if it.

Next Post -Pics and recipes.

“Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.” The Cowboy Way.


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