The King Ranch Casserole is a classic bold and zesty Texas dish and nine times out of ten that you encounter it, it’s going to include chicken. But not today, friends! This time it’s full of meaty, savory pulled pork and I don’t know that I’ll be going back to the original anytime soon. It’s like pork and all of that cheesy tex-mex flavor are just meant to be together, and it’s a cinch to pull together when you’ve got leftovers laying around.
One standby of King Ranch Casserole is cream of mushroom soup, but we’re not going that route. Ours is more of a from-scratch situation, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way hard to make. Ours relies on sour cream for creaminess and building the sauce is a simple matter of sauteeing garlic, onion, and bell pepper before stirring in some flour and simmering down some beef broth. There’s also lime juice and cumin and chili powder and tomatoes and green chilies involved… which is to say there’s no shortage of zesty flavor here.
The pork and sour cream get folded into that mixture, which then gets layered with corn tortillas and a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack (and plenty of it). After it hangs out in the oven, it emerges as layers and layers of bubbly bold flavor with some tantalizing cheese pulls and crispy corn tortilla edges to boot. One bite will remind you why King Ranch Casserole is such an enduring classic.
Is there anything wrong with a King Ranch Chicken Casserole? No, not in the slightest. But pork is more moist, a little fattier, and so has a way of really nestling into that creamy cheesy sauce as if it belongs there. Because it’s a weightier protein, it doesn’t just fade into the background like chicken tends to do, it stands up to all that flavor in its own right so it competes as a major player with those other bold flavors.
Pulled Pork King Ranch Casserole
20m prep time
30m cook time
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup beef broth
- Juice from one lime
- 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 1/2 lbs pulled pork
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 18 corn tortillas
- 2 cups pepper jack cheese, grated
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Sour cream, cilantro, diced jalapeños, for serving (optional)
- Heat oven to 375°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter and add onions and bell pepper. Cook until soft and fragrant, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Stir in flour, chili powder, cumin and cook 1 more minute. Reduce heat to low, gradually stir in beef broth and lime juice and cook until mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in drained tomatoes and chiles and sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add pulled pork to bowl and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- In a separate bowl, toss the two cheeses together.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook tortillas until golden, 30-60 seconds per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and continue with remaining tortillas.
- Arrange 6 tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish, followed by 1/2 of the pulled pork mixture, and 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
- Repeat layers once more (tortillas, pork, cheese), followed by one final layer of tortillas.
- Grease a sheet of aluminum foil liberally with nonstick spray and cover baking dish loosely. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Uncover, top with remaining cheese, and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 10-15 minutes more. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen.