I was born & raised in South Texas, so it would seem natural to have heard of this great dish long before I did. I ate some at a party and loved it. Actually, this dish was NOT developed at the world famous King Ranch, as I would later find out from reading about it online! No one seems to know how or where or who put the original recipe together, but suffice it to say there were like 30 to 40 defferent recipes for it... So I copied them all, took all the common ingredients they shared, and came up with my own.
This is probably my all-time favorite dish and I love to serve it to company!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, combine chopped onion, celery and bell pepper with 1 cup of water. (If using boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into bitesized pieces and add to veggie mixture. Add a little extra water and cook until chicken is done and veggies are tender.) Drain off the liquid.
Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish, or a 9 X 13 inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of the fried tortilla chips in the bottom of casserole dish. Then add the veggie/chicken mixture, spreading around evenly. Don't stir it up...just layer it.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the 2 cans of soup. Mix together well, then spoon the soup mixture over the casserole dish, spreading it out evenly over all. Spread out half of the shredded cheese. Arrange on top of this the remaining tortilla chips. Over this, pour on the Ro-Tel tomatoes, spreading it out evenly. **At this point, if desired, you may use a small can of diced mild green chilies for a little extra flavor.
Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese and black olive slices. Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes. The cheese should shart to look brown and the casserole bubbly.
Helpful Tips: If you want fewer calories and less fat, use the Healthy Choice soups or select soups with less sodium. Lowfat shredded cheese is okay... And if you are in a hurry, you could use "Doritos" tortilla chips instead of frying the tortilla strips, but beware of the added salt! I prefer to fry the tortilla chips because it gives the dish a more authentic flavor. If you like it a little spicy, you can use medium or hot diced chilies or Ro-Tel tomatoes. To garnish, sprinkle on top a small handfull of fresh cilantro leaves! This dish freezes well.