I was searching for something to do with the rest of some boneless, skinless chicken thighs I had, and I came across this Emeril recipe. It called for cooking up a chicken chili in a cast iron skillet and then topping it with cornbread batter and popping the whole thing in the oven! I think this chili came out great and the cornbread was really nice on top. The other unique twist to this chili, which I didn’t have the guts to do my first time making it is that it calls for adding corn kernels and letting them pop in the pan. I wasn’t confident in my ability to make this work, so I just added regular corn, but I am quite intrigued by the idea of popped corn kernels in there. If anyone tries this, certainly let me know – I’d love to hear how it turned out (see the link to the original recipe for instructions on that).
As it was, this chili was very yummy – the chicken stayed nice and juicy and the bread topped with cheese was moist and fresh. It was very spicy. I would say we definitely like moderately spicy food, and we thought this was perfect with a large dollop of sour cream mixed into each serving to cool it down. If you don’t like things too spicy or if you don’t plan on adding sour cream, I would recommend reducing the cayenne a bit. I think we had a fairly hot jalapeno as well, so that played a part too.
Cornbread-topped chicken chili skillet
Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse, Food Network
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed (I had about ¾ lb., so I also added a can of black beans)
Sprinklings of cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup chopped yellow onions
½ cup chopped red bell peppers (I used green, only because the red at my store looked like they wouldn’t last until late in the week)
1 large minced jalapeno pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup corn kernels (As I mentioned, I used thawed frozen sweet corn)
1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes and their juices
1 cup chicken stock
Cornbread topping, recipe follows
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, for topping (I only had sliced cheddar jack, so I scattered small slices over the top)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Season the chicken with sprinklings of spices (listed second in the ingredients) on all sides. Mix cornbread topping (see below).
2. In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan and when hot, add the onions, bell peppers and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the stock, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add corn and black beans to skillet and stir to heat through. Return the chicken to the pot and cook until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Spoon the cornmeal batter over the chicken mixture, leaving at least a 1/2-inch border around the sides.
4. Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return to the oven until melted, 2 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the sour cream. Serve hot.
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil (I actually did use the bacon grease – might not have been as healthy, but certainly made a flavor difference!)
In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a small bowl, beat together the buttermilk, egg and bacon grease. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended, being careful not to overmix. Use as a topping for the Chicken Chili.