We are talking serious comfort food today. Chili and cornbread in one casserole. I know. You’re welcome. Happy Monday!
I’ve been doing my best to bring on the warm weather by cooking more spring and summery foods, but it just doesn’t seem to be working and the fact that we just got back from a cold and crazy hockey weekend in Vermont—emphasis on the crazy, made me feel like I just had to change gears and make us something warm and hearty again. I’ll resume the science experiment tomorrow!
Please, please, please don’t judge this by its looks. It may not be the most gorgeous thing you ever ate, especially when you spoon it up, but it is absolutely delicious and one of those homey dishes you are just going to love having in your repertoire. Simple enough for a weeknight dinner or to make for a casual party. It’s truly a crowd pleaser!
First let’s talk about the easy chicken chili base which can be made with leftover or rotisserie chicken, which really cuts down on time and effort. You could even leave the chicken out and double up on the sweet potatoes and black beans for a vegetarian version. There’s also red peppers, tomatoes, jalapeño and chipotle peppers which add a ton of color, flavor and just the right amount of zing!
And now for the cornbread, which really takes this dish over the top. C’mon, are there many things better than homemade cornbread? I just adore it! Seriously, if I even see a recipe with cornbread in it, I immediately find myself trying to figure out just how soon I can get into the kitchen and start whipping it up.
And this cornbread topping, not too sweet and spiked with jalapeños and red peppers, does not disappoint. It’s the perfect earthy, carby balance to the spiciness of the chili. A truly winning combination! Plus, it comes together easily.
It’s everything you want/need. And all at the start of the week too. And we got to turn the clocks forward! Things are definitely looking up!!
Chicken Chili Cornbread Casserole
Makes about 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Bake Time: 30 minutes
For the chili
One large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fine sea salt
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped, divided
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped, divided
Pinch or two of chile powder
14 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/4 cup chicken broth (you might need more)
Large handful chopped fresh parsley
For the Cornbread
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1. To make the chili: Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add the sweet potato and cook for about 8 minutes, until partially tender. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic with a pinch or two of salt for a few minutes, until softened. Stir every now and then. Add 1/2 the red pepper and jalapeño and the chile powder and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the red pepper has softened. Add the tomatoes and juice, beans, a generous pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, the chipotle pepper and sauce and honey. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Then add the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Add in 1/4 cup of the broth. If the mixture still seems dry, add a little more broth. You want a little liquid but not a goopey chili. Taste and add more salt, pepper and whatever else is needed. Stir in the parsley. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
3. To make the cornbread topping: Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda, salt and chile powder in a medium bowl and whisk together well. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, oil and honey together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and use the whisk to blend until just moistened. Then use a rubber spatula to stir in the remaining red pepper and jalapeño and the parsley to the chili. Mix only until you can’t see any traces of dry ingredients. You don’t want to over mix or the cornbread will be tough. Pour the batter over the chili in the dish and smooth the top.
4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the cornbread is a deep golden brown. Insert a tester into the cornbread part—you want it to come out clean. If it doesn’t, bake for a bit longer. Serve immediately.
5. Leftovers for this are delish—reheated or cold. You could also make the chili a couple of days ahead, refrigerate it and then just make the cornbread when you are ready to bake it.
Note: Recipe adapted from Everyday Dorie by Dorie Greenspan. I tinkered a lot with this and you should feel free to also. It would also be good as a vegetarian dish, in which case I would increase the sweet potato and black beans.