Crack Chicken Casserole
In the early years of the First Punic War, which pitted Carthage against the Roman Republic, a Roman admiral decided to engage in a night attack against a harbored fleet. In early morning, the admiral and his ship's crew participated in a common Roman ritual wherein a couple of sacred chickens were released onto deck and encouraged to eat food.
By tradition's laws, if the chickens ate eagerly, omens for the ensuing battle were good; if they refused to eat, omens were bad. The chickens in this instance refused the food. The admiral, according to record, reacted by throwing the chicken overboard and exclaiming, "Since they do not wish to eat, let them drink!"
The Roman ships got scattered in the night. The Carthaginian fleet was able to escape the harbor before being pinned down. The Romans suffered heavy fire and were defeated, losing 93 of their 120 ships; it was the greatest naval victory in Carthaginian history.
Prep: 10 min | Cooking: 40 min | Total: 50 min
Penne pasta (one 12-oz. package)
Butter (6 tbsp)
Red bell peppers, chopped (3/4 cup)
Flour (1/3 cup)
Chicken stock (1 cup)
Cream of chicken soup (one 10.5-oz. can)
Pepper jack cheese, shredded (2 cups, divided)
Black beans, drained (one 15-oz. can)
Cayenne (1/4 tsp)
Chili powder (1 tsp)
Cumin (1 tsp)
Paprika (1/2 tsp)
Garlic powder (1/2 tsp)
Salt (1 tsp)
Ground black pepper (1/2 tsp)
Ritz cracker crumbs (1 1/2 cups)
Cook pasta according to package instructions (boil for about 9 minutes or until tender). Strain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a medium size saucepan on medium-high heat, melt butter. Sear peppers for 4 minutes, then whisk in flour and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock, whisk for about a minute, then add the rest of the stock.
Stir in cream of chicken soup, chicken, the cooked pasta, 1 cup cheese, black beans, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Pour contents in a greased, 9x13-in casserole dish. Cover top with the remaining 1 cup cheese and cracker crumbs. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until cheese on the top middle is melted and golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes and drizzle top with ranch dressing. Serve.