When I made this casserole for our big Sunday supper, Daniel smiled into his plate. He chewed and mmm’ed and then looked up at me, and with the sunniest grin, said, “I want you to make this for our children.”
Me: …[pause]…Ooo…Here’s the only snafu: You know that we don’t have any of those yet?
Daniel: Ha, yes, but I was just thinking out loud. It tastes good…and it’s so good for you…and it’s got corn…kids would love this kind of thing.
Me: …You also just found out that we’re not yet married?
Daniel: Uh huh.
Me: …And that by the time I have children I’ll be making meals exclusively in the shape of Muppet Babies?
Me:…And that I’m going to be really sleepy by then?
Daniel: When you’re thirty?
Me: Uh huh.
Me: …And you also know that I’m going to teach my someday children to cook by the time they’re 18 months old?
Daniel: I figured.
Me: …be-because…I really believe in independence. And self sufficiency.
Daniel: Makes sense.
Me: But I guess I can make this sometimes. Because, like, some kids don’t like peanut butter and fluff sandwiches as much as I’d like them to. Not all the time, anyhow. And remember what I said about being sleepy?
Daniel: I know.
Me: But our kids will, right? They’ll like fluff?
Daniel: How could they not?
Me: Good point. You know I’m a worrier.
[chew, chew, chew]
Me: And…I mean…can we teach them how to paint my nails and toes? Like, really good?
Me: And clean the tile in the shower? Because I really don’t like that.
Me: Oh! And do you think they’ll watch The View with me? Because sometimes you forget?
Daniel: Well, I don’t know if The View will still be on then…
Me: Pffft wha-?! How could you say that?!
Daniel: No, I mean, it probably will still be on. It’s just…you know how TV goes…it’s tough to tell how long shows will last.
Me: That show will last forever.
Daniel: No, you’re right. I’m sure it will.
Me: No, like for-ev-er. I don’t even want to think about it being over. Can’t. Won’t. Will not. Nope.
Daniel: Kiddo, don’t worry about it. And yes, kids will love to watch The View with you. I’ll teach them explicitly how to DVR it if they have to do things like…oh, I don’t know, say, go to school. And how to fix you an iced pomegranate spritzer in the middle of the night. Everything will be great.
Daniel: Good. [smile] Really, I just love this dinner. Thanks for making it.
Me: Uh huh.
Daniel: You like it too? It has cornbread and chicken and gravy- all things you love.
Me: I just can’t believe you would say that about The View. You know how much I love Barbara.
[Daniel exits stage left]
This is lovely.
Tender chunks of chicken, sweet softened carrots, celery, onion, and corn, swimming in a rich, creamy gravy, and nestled under a blanket of sweet, gritty cornbread. The crumbly topping serving as the perfect sponge for all that sauce. Comfort.
Chicken and Cornbread Casserole
(recipe adapted from Oprah.com)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons ground thyme
- 2 teaspoons ground sage
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken (12 oz)
- 3/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoons canola oil
To make filling: First, if you haven’t got any leftover chicken like I had from a whole bird I roasted on Saturday, you’ll need to poach a few boneless, skinless breasts. Set three chicken breasts in a large pot, cover with two inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the chicken for about 12 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8” square baking dish (or any baking dish of a comparable size) generously with nonstick cooking spray. Heat butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and corn, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir until it coats the vegetables, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in 2 cups of chicken stock, whisking well so that the flour begins to de-clump and thicken the stock. Cook mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into your prepared dish and spread mixture evenly.
To make crust: In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir milk, egg and canola oil until well combined in a separate bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spoon the batter evenly over the filling. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Nutrition info for 1 serving (1/5th of entire recipe): Calories: 450.1, Fat: 16.1g, Carb: 50g, Fiber: 5.1g, Sugars 4.9g, Protein: 21.9g
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