Let’s go over this. Sweet, soft cornbread + shredded chicken in fiery sauce+lots of CHEESE= delicious dinner is served ?.
I’m just kidding. But seriously, you have to try this comfort tex-mex classic: chicken tamale pie. Because sometimes, I just don’t wanna deal with making a full meal and would rather just do a one-dish wonder with a simple salad.
Confession time: I’m really not into casserole-y type dishes that call for “a can of cream of x soup” and “a can of x vegetables”. *gasp* I’m just not; they’re bland and full of unnecessary fat, and lack texture. I’d rather just eat a giant bowl of ice cream because priorities, man. Priorities. ?
But I get why casseroles exist. Casseroles are a quick way to put a meal on the table while stretching the buck. And casseroles usually have a component of a protein and sides built into one single dish. That’s a win for busy people everywhere; especially when your 5-year-old is whining because she’s hungry even though minutes before she said she was too full to finish her third snack of the afternoon. AFTER you warned her that she wouldn’t get anything else until dinner-time. And your 3-year-old is walking about growling at and terrorizing the toddler who is taking a break from unfolding the previously folded and sorted laundry for the fifth time in an hour, to rip the pages out of your 8-year-old’s overdue library book. Who is in turn screaming at the top of her lungs to get her brother’s attention. Because that’s efficiency right there. And then there is me. I just want them all to be quiet. For like 3 entire minutes so I can pretend to have some sort of order in my chaotic world.
On days like these, I
want desperately need a quick dinner, ya’ know, before my entire house comes crashing down. I usually go for things like this 20-minute classic, or these sammies, The chicken tamale pie fits the bill, where I can just assemble a few ingredients and pop it in the oven.
I made my cornbread from scratch, and used homemade enchilada sauce but you can use canned enchilada sauce, cornbread mix, and pre-cooked chicken to make this an even faster meal. Did I mention that I cut back on the fat and calories by replacing butter traditionally found in cornbread with fat-free greek yogurt? And I slow cooked my chicken in the crockpot for lunch earlier that day, so I didn’t have to make additional chicken. The chicken was fall-apart tender; I barely had to shred it myself. The best part is, you can use ANY leftover chicken like I did with my leftover lunch. I had some roasted poblano peppers to use as well so I mixed them in with the chicken; you can replace the peppers with canned green chiles, mild or hot, depending on your preference.
Let’s talk layers. The cornbread forms the bottom layer, or the crust of the tamale pie. The addition of whole kernels of corn give the crust a more varied texture, with bursts of savory and sweet. And this is key: using the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes into the cornbread. These holes allow the enchilada sauce to seep into the cornbread and flavor it even more. Then comes the layer of shredded chicken mixed with enchilada sauce, and finally the cheese. Oh the cheese! I only had cheddar in my fridge but you can use any blend of cheese you want. I’ll probably use a combination of pepper jack and colby next time. Then it bakes again, until the cheese is melty.
And with that, dinner is done!
- 1 lb cooked shredded chicken breast (recipe follows)
- ⅔ cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup 0% fat greek yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (like a mexican, pepperjack, colby, etc.)
- 2 cups enchilada sauce (or canned enchilada sauce)
- 1 small can diced green chiles, drained or roasted poblano peppers
- slow cooker chicken:
- 1 lb chicken breast
- ¼ tsp garlic
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- COOK THE CHICKEN: combine chicken with spices and cook in slow cooker on high for 2-3 hours, until fully cooked. Shred with two forks and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-10-inch pie pan or cast iron skillet and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, oil, and greek yogurt. Stir in corn.
- Slowly stir in wet ingredients to dry ingredients, just until mixed. Do not overmix.
- Pour cornbread mixture into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown. The cornbread will be a little wet even when fully cooked.
- While the cornbread is baking, combine shredded chicken with1½ cups enchilada sauce and green chilies.
- Remove cornbread from the oven. With the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over corn bread. Spread remaining enchilada sauce onto the cornbread. Spread the chicken and sauce mixture on top of the cornbread. Top with cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.