‘Tis the season to pour melted butter on *&^#! –Me.
Festive and classy. That Jason is one lucky guy.
I did mean it when I said that the internet will always have room for one more baked slider recipe. And I did mean it when I said that this was the season to pour melted butter on [mommy word].
Of course, I mostly said that because I have two more slider recipes hanging out in my drafts folder. And I mostly said [mommy word] because that’s just who I am when my 3 year old isn’t around to hear it and then put me in time-out.
You have never seen a power trip like a 3 year old with that kind of power.
But back to those sliders.
These buttery bites of magical cookery are the best thing to happen to holiday flavors since… Maybe I’m stretching, here. But, they do come slathered with a spoonful of Bacon & Cranberry Chutney and topped with browned butter with cripsy, salty bites of prosciutto and crunchy slivers of sage leaves.
And then they’re baked until the cheese gets all melty and starts oozing out the sides. Is it an appetizer? Dinner? Breakfast? Something to grab on one of those “just because” trips through the kitchen?
Baked Turkey & Cranberry Sliders
Repurpose holiday leftovers into a baked turkey slider topped with browned sage butter.
Let me tell you about the Thanksgiving Side Dish That Wasn’t.
No matter how many times you’ve hosted or cooked for 279 people at your house for a party or a holiday dinner, you aren’t immune from forgetting something. Realizing that the bag of ice you bought is now nothing more than a puddle underneath the shopping cart in the HEB parking lot is always my favorite.
Or the 2 boxes of cream cheese that slipped out of the bag and under the passenger seat when you had to slam on your brakes to avoid fusing your car with the car of a clueless driver because – SERIOUSLY, THE WET STUFF IS RAIN AND IT DOES SOMETIMES FALL FROM THE SKY IN TEXAS.
This year, that something was the cauliflower.
It was going to be slow-roasted in the oven until the bottoms caramelized and the very tips of the florets turned brown and crunchy. It was going to be tossed in a straight-from-heaven browned butter cooked with fresh sage – ’tis the Season, SAGE IN EVERYTHING! – and thin strips of prosciutto. It was going to be topped with some fresh grated Parmesan before passed around the table.
And every bite topped with those crispy bits of sage leaves and prosciutto was going to be met with oohs and aahs and mmms and rmgphrmnhgphs.
Instead, the cauliflower was left in the barren vegetable drawer in the fridge. Which worked out fabulously because when we got back from Thanksgiving #2 in northeast Texas, it was the only food left in the house.
The Thanksgiving Side Dish That Wasn’t turned into The More For Us Sunday Dinner.
Roasted Cauliflower with Sage Brown Butter & Prosciutto
Toss roasted, caramelized cauliflower with browned butter flavored with fresh sage and prosciutto for a quick but impressive veggie side dish.
2 heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 Tbsp butter
4 sage leaves, thinly sliced
4 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced
Grated Parmesan, for serving
Preheat oven to 400.
Lightly grease 2 large baking pans with olive oil and divide the cauliflower between pans, spreading out into a single layer (or just bake half at a time, if you're short a baking sheet).
Lightly brush or spray with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes, until nicely browned.
In a small sauce pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown.
Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, add the sage leaves and prosciutto.
The mixture will bubble up - swirl, remove from heat, and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a large serving platter - or onto a single baking sheet - and drizzle with the sage butter. Toss to coat.
Season with additional salt and pepper and serve topped with grated parmesan.
That is King Ranch Chicken Casserole. And it’s Texas’ contribution to the category of amorphous, 50-Shades-of-Brown, one-dish comfort foods that taste far, far better than they look.
But I’m not doing it justice.
To describe King Ranch Chicken a little more favorably – and in a manner totally worthy of that warm bowl of comfort that’s perfect for a chilly Texas fall night – think of it as a cross between a TexMex lasagna that’s made with tortillas rather than pasta and a chicken pot pie that’s lighter on the vegetables and sports a topping of corn tortillas and golden brown and bubbly cheese rather than a flakey pie crust.
Absent in this casserole are the much-maligned cream-of soups. If you want to use them, you can. But making the homemade cream-of soup that serves as the base for King Ranch Chicken is only slightly more work than cranking open a couple of cans with a manual opener. And you get to take a pass on all those 15-letter ingredients and the extra sodium.
Present in this casserole is a generous dose of green chiles for mild warmth and a mountain of shredded cheese to contribute to that oozy, melty, and magical amorphous blob.
Did I do it justice that time? Good. Now get out your grocery list and let’s get to work.
Put it on your menu for a stretch of cold nights this winter when your schedule would high-five your for 2 nights of scoop-and-reheat leftovers. Put it on your menu for a week when store-roasted rotisseries go on sale. Put it on your menu to crush those Thanksgiving dark-meat turkey leftovers.
Either way. You’re gonna want to put it on your menu soon.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
The ultimate in Texas comfort food, this casserole is made with homemade cream of chicken sauce and corn tortillas.
For the chicken:
2.5-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts (or the meat from 1 precooked rotisserie chicken)
For the cream sauce:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup flour
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 cup cream (I use fat-free greek yogurt instead)
10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes
4 oz can of green or hatch chiles, drained
For the casserole
24 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of white and yellow cheddars and monterrey jack)
If cooking your own chicken, preheat oven to 425. (If not, you just shaved 30 minutes off dinner prep!)
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or your favorite general seasoning).
Divide it into 2-3 foil pouches and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let sit for 5 minutes before shredding.
While the chicken is cooking, make the cream sauce and reduce the oven to 350.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan or pot over medium-high heat.
Cook the onion, bell pepper, and garlic for ~10 minutes, until softened and there's no standing liquid left.
Stir in the chili powder, red pepper, cumin, salt, and black pepper.
Add the flour in 2 batches, stirring until all traces of white are gone.
Add 3 cups of the chicken stock to the pot, 1 cup at a time, whisking until smooth.
Whisk in the cream (or yogurt), and add the Rotel (do not drain it first) and the peppers.
Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Reserve 1 cup of cream sauce before adding the chicken to the pot.
Lightly oil the bottom and a 13x9 baking dish and place the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock into a bowl wide enough to hold the tortillas.
Dip the tortillas into the stock (I did stacks of 4 at a time) and line the bottom of the baking dish so that the tortillas are 2 wide and 4 long.
Pour half of the chicken mixture into the baking dish and top with 1/3 of the cheese.
Add another layer of dipped-tortillas in the same manner, lightly pressing on them to level the contents of the pan.
Top with the remaining chicken mixture and 1/3 of the cheese.
Add the final layer of dipped-tortillas and press on them to level out the dish.
Spread the reserved cream sauce over the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly and the top of the casserole is golden brown.
Let sit 10-15 minutes to firm up before cutting into 12-squares and serving.