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Cornbread Chicken Chili Casserole with a Caesar Salad

5 Dec

Cornbread Casserole Served 2

My mom used to make a cornbread casserole on a regular basis, but it was the beef and kidney bean variety.  The idea is to make a chili of some sort, and then pour cornbread batter over the top of it and bake it for a while.  In the end, you have a cornbread crust on top and some savory chili underneath it.  You spoon this puppy out and it’s ridiculously good.

I’ve had a hankerin’ for some white chicken chili for a while now, especially since the winter months are upon us in the northern hemisphere.  I also wanted cornbread because who doesn’t want cornbread on a regular basis?  I also had taken chicken breasts out of the freezer two days ago, so I had to use them.  All of these elements played into what I created tonight.

This Cornbread Chicken Chili Casserole is an excellent example of “Dinner with Jonny.”  I found this recipe at about 3 p.m.  on the Betty Crocker website: (http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/southern-chicken-cornbread-casserole/b79f3235-9dc3-4c39-baa6-7c018a32be7f).  I had to go to the store anyway, so I printed this up, put it in my pocket, and bought what I needed for it, and what I wanted to add to it, by 4 p.m.

By 5 p.m., I had some chicken breasts cooked, a glass of Johnny Walker Black poured, and all of the parts assembled on my counter.  I just needed to find out when my wifey would be coming home to know when I needed to put it in the oven.

I also wanted to have some green with this, so I made my caesar salad dressing beforehand (recipe to follow) and chopped some romaine lettuce.

Lastly, I felt like this needed to be lightened, somewhat.  So I substituted lighter versions of some of the ingredients to make it thus.  The Weight Watchers training pervades my cooking…and I feel less guilty.

From start to finish, it takes an hour.  But, a lot of it is inactive cooking time where you can chill with the kid or kids, do a load of laundry, make a cocktail, and/or grade some papers.

Cornbread Chicken Chili Casserole

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked chopped chicken breast meat (you can buy the precooked stuff, of course.  You can also rub a few chicken breasts with olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and cook them in a 375° oven for 35 minutes, and you’ll get some juicy meat.  If you use a bone in chicken breast, cook it for 45 to 50 minutes.)

1  4 oz. can diced green chilies

1  15 oz. can white beans

1 tsp. poultry seasoning (You can buy it or make it.  This is a recipe how to make it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/poultry-seasoning/)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 cups light sour cream (use regular of you’re of that “I can eat anything” body type)

1 cup low fat milk (use whole milk if you have no qualms about calories)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups Shredded Cheddar (who opens for Cheap Trick next month at The Grove)

3 green onions, sliced

Cornbread Topping:

1  8.5 oz. box of Jiffy Cornbread mix or something comparable

1  15 oz. can creamed corn

1 egg

2 tbsp. melted butter

Makin’ it:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 13″ x 9″ inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, beans, chilis, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper (adjust the salt and pepper to taste, by the way).  Mix in the cheese and green onions.

Spoon this evenly into the baking dish.  You’ll get this:

Chicken Casserole filling

For the cornbread, make it like the box says, except use the creamed corn instead of the milk.  Add in the butter and egg.

Now you need to spoon this over the filling.  I would suggest putting dollops of it over the whole thing and spreading it out evenly like that.  If you don’t, you will mix too much of the filling with the cornbread mixture, resulting in an angry cook.  If you do it right, you’ll get this:

Chicken Casserole topped with corn bread mix

Put this in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the cornbread and it has a tannish crust on it, like this:

Cornbread Casserole Served 1

This serves 8, it says, but I’m thinking 6 would be more likely.  We took half as much filling and doubled the amount of cornbread to eat.  This is how we roll.

Cornbread Casserole Served 4

This is unbelievably good and hearty.  The caesar salad worked well with this to give it some green.

The Best Caesar Salad, Ever

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole

2 tbsp. white wine or rice vinegar

3 tbsp. mayo (low fat is best)

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets

2 tbsp. olive oil

Makin’ it:

In a food processor, add all of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil.  Get the food processor going and, through the chute, slowly pour the olive oil as it mixes.  Let it go for a minute or two and you will have a creamy, beautiful dressing that kicks bottled salad dressing in the nuts with force and mercilessly.

This is enough for 4 servings, so chop up some romaine lettuce, add about 1/4 cup of parmesan, add some croutons, and you have a caesar salad fit for a Roman emperor or an obstetrician.

On a lighter night, make two bigger caesar salads and add a grilled sliced chicken breast on top of each.  You’ll be cryin’ yourself to sleep on your huge pillow it’s so good.

Drinks!  I tried the Kirkland Cabernet from Costco this evening because I saw it there today.  Meh.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

p.s.  I know my pictures suck.  I’m working on it.

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