Buffalo Chicken Casserole

This is one of Karl’s favorite keto meals, and I’ve made it often enough that I’ve found just the right variation for us. The original recipe is from ruled.me, which is a great resource for low carb living, but I’ve found that this version is a better fit for our cooking style (i.e.:lazy) and I think the flavors work out well for us.
You’re going to want:
  • 6 chicken thighs, cubed
  • 6 slices of bacon (I vary this based on how much I need for breakfast the next day, but it always seems fine)
  • 4 medium jalapeño peppers (3 diced, 1 sliced)
  • 16 oz. cream cheese (strong preference for Philly brand here, it seems to melt best)
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 c. Frank’s Red Hot

First off, chop up the bacon (kitchen shears are great for this) and cook to your preferred bacon doneness in a large skillet or fry pan. I like bacon crispy but not crunchy, so that’s how I roll. Once your bacon is perfect, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the fat and let it drain on a paper towel. (I have a mason jar for bacon drippings, so I just put a paper towel over that and let the bacon crumbles rest there.

Leave the rendered bacon fat in the pan, and add the diced jalapeño, sauteing over medium heat until tender. The bacon fat will take on some great flavor from the peppers, and end up looking nearly like olive oil in color. When the peppers are tender but still bright green, pull them out with your trusty slotted spoon and reserve with the bacon.

Into that lovely green bacon fat, toss all of your cubed chicken. (Now you see why we were using such a large pan for such a modest amount of bacon…)

Stir regularly until all the chicken is cooked, then pull out that slotted spoon again to deposit in an even layer on the bottom of a 9″ x13″ casserole.

In the Tiny Apartment, all chicken related steps are accompanied by a fair amount of this:

Your mileage may vary, depending on the occupants of your kitchen, of course.
Preheat the oven to 350°.

I reserved the drippings from the jalapeño sautéd chicken because it was just so lovely. It doesn’t have a place in this recipe, but I put it in a small jar, and I’m thinking it might be a nice base for some sort of tortilla chicken soup shenanigans… I’ll let you know how that turns out. But seriously, how could I throw that down the drain?

The second part of this project works best in a double boiler. You can totally just melt the cream cheese in a microwave, if you have one (we haven’t found a place for one in the Tiny Kitchen, nor do we often miss it) but I think the sauce comes together better over gentle heat. I don’t actually HAVE a double boiler though, so it’s an old metal bowl to the rescue. Yes, I’m holding it in place with a hot mitt. Hush. (I should really consider buying one, we don’t have much space, or much disposable income, but I’ve done this bowl-on-a-pot routine four times in the last week already… It might be time.)

Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the lower vessel, and drop your two bricks of cream cheese into the bowl. If you buy the tubs of cream cheese, I’d recommend measuring by weight, cream cheese doesn’t measure by volume all that well. Let it melt on its own for a few minutes, then help it along by mashing until you can start to stir. Then add the sour cream. This is one of the changes from the source that I really like, because you can get a much smoother sauce if you don’t already have the pepper and bacon lumping it up.

Once the cheese mixture is good and smooth, add the Frank’s Red Hot. Be careful to stir this thoroughly, as it tends to accumulate on the bottom and streaks will emerge when you are convinced it is fully incorporated.

The resulting sauce will be a pretty pale orange, and is ready for the peppers and bacon that are languishing in their bowl over on the counter.

Mix those bad boys on in, and then pour the whole thing over the chicken in the casserole.

Smooth the cheese sauce over the chicken, spreading as though you were icing a cake. It will seep down between the pieces of chicken and hold the whole thing together. Pretty, but we could really do with some garnish…

Cover the casserole with the 4 oz. of shredded cheddar, and then add the sliced jalapeño, evenly distributed. Then sprinkle the mozzarella over the top.

All ready for the oven:

Bake for 15 minutes at 350°. Broil for 3-4 minutes to crisp up the cheese on top.

This packs well for lunches, assuming you have a microwave at work. (I’m pretty sure Karl has just eaten it cold more than once, but I’m pickier than that…) Cut into 6 pieces and enjoy.

Clean up is always critical in the Tiny Kitchen.
This mess utilized the following things that needed to be cleaned:

  • silicone spatula
  • slotted spoon
  • tablespoon measure
  • 1/2 cup measure
  • large chef’s knife
  • pairing knife
  • metal bowl
  • small bowl
  • large skillet
  • saucepan
  • kitchen shears
  • mug for consumption of coffee
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About Sarah

Freelance NPC
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