King Ranch chicken casserole is named for a Texas ranch that covers over ¾ million acres, making it (the ranch, not the casserole) nearly twice the size of the one owned by Mr. Pioneer Woman. The recipe itself doesn't appear to have been created by a 19th-century analog of Ree Drummond but instead may have been concocted by some anonymous householder in the mid-20th century. Former FLOTUS Lady Bird Johnson was known to make this casserole, and a recipe of hers dating from the 1970s calls for the same blend of canned chicken and mushroom soups that developer Ting Dalton is using in her version. Dalton, however, says she eschews the condensed soups that most recipes (Johnson's included) call for, explaining, "I like to use normal soup so there is plenty of sauce." She also opts for a milder combo of sauteed bell peppers and diced tomatoes in place of the spicy Ro-Tel tomatoes favored by the Texan-born first lady.
Dalton calls her King Ranch chicken casserole "comfort food at its finest" and describes the dish as "really delicious and very filling." So filling, in fact, that you're likely to have leftovers even if you do have multiple mouths to feed (the recipe makes six servings). That's no problem since Dalton assures us that, like most casseroles, her King Ranch chicken takes very well to freezing.
How To Freeze And Reheat The Casserole
To freeze your leftover King Ranch casserole, you should first let it come to room temperature since freezing food while it's still hot can lead to condensation forming, then freezing, and the resulting layer of ice inside the container won't add to the casserole's quality. Once the casserole has cooled, portion it out in individual serving sizes. Then package these in resealable tubs or bags. When you want to revisit the casserole, the frozen leftovers can be thawed and reheated in the oven or go directly into the microwave without thawing. Whichever method you choose, Dalton advises, "Make sure you reheat [the casserole] thoroughly."
So how long do you have to polish off your frozen casserole? Dalton feels that it will be best if eaten within three months, but you're in no danger if you let it stay in the freezer for longer than that. The truth of the matter, according to the USDA, is that few, if any, frozen foods actually expire, at least if by "expire" you mean become unsafe to consume. Still, it's best to plan on eating the leftovers before they become buried in ice crystals from your not-as-frost-free-as-advertised appliance or a freak storm knocks out the power long enough for your frozen food to start thawing out.
Read the original article on Mashed.