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Southwestern Chicken Dinner with Zippy Corn Pudding

Recipe: Southwestern Chicken Dinner with Zippy Corn Pudding

Remarks:

    Get the corn pudding ready in advance (even up to a day ahead) and pop it in the oven with the chicken. At the end, just add the zucchini and you've got your whole dinner in the oven. Then relax.

Servings:
Serves 4

Ingredients:

    Cornbread
    One 7 1/2oz package corn muffin mix (Martha White is one brand)
    1/2 cup milk

    Zippy Corn Pudding
    1 batch of cornbread (9" X 9" pan size or pre-made from the store will work fine too)
    1 cup canned corn, rinsed and drained
    4 slices hot pepper cheese or 1 cup block pepper cheese (diced either way)
    1/2 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
    1 mild chili minced (no seeds; use Anaheim, banana or some other mild chili)
    3 green onions diced (light green parts included)
    1 cup buttermilk (1% is fine)
    1/2 cup red enchilada sauce
    2 eggs
    1/4 tsp salt

    Chicken
    4 chicken breasts, split, bone in
    Southwestern meat rub or a barbecue rub
    1-1/2 cups red enchilada sauce (I use medium hot; you choose your level of taste.)
    6 green onions chopped (light green parts included)
    1 mild chili sliced into small rings (no seeds; you choose your chili)
    two 6" zucchinis, chopped into 1" cubes

Instructions:

    Cornbread Instructions
    To make the corn bread, pull out your 9" X 9" ovenproof pan. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour it. You can put the cornbread mix directly in the pan (Why wash a bowl?). Add the 1/2 cup of milk the directions call for, and gently stir the mixture until all crumbs are fully incorporated. Just make sure all of the dry bits are mixed in. (If you found a mix that requires an egg or oil, just follow the directions on the box to make the cornbread.) This all can be done a day ahead or right when you want to make the dish. When the mix is fully stirred in, bake the corn bread at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip out of the pan and let cool to the touch.

    Corn Pudding Instructions
    To make the corn pudding, you can use the same ovenproof pan. You don't even have to wash it after you take out the cornbread. Just spray it again so it's ready to go. Dice your cheese, chop your red bell pepper, mince your chili and chop your green onions. Mix them all up on your cutting board with the drained corn. When the corn bread is cool enough to cut, use a bread knife and cut it into one-inch cubes. Put those in your ovenproof pan first. Then sprinkle in all of the chopped ingredients.

    In a separate small bowl, mix the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce, the two eggs and salt with a whisk until it's fully combined. Pour this over the cornbread. Now take a fork and get the cornbread, the chopped veggies and the sauce all mixed up. You want to make sure all of your corn bread gets wet.

    Put this in your refrigerator to soak. Some folks think you have to do this for hours. I only give it about 20 minutes. I'm too impatient and I want to make dinner, so I go ahead. If you want, you can even leave it overnight. If you leave it overnight, cover it with plastic wrap.

    While this is soaking in the refrigerator, you'll get your chicken ready to go.

    Chicken Instructions
    Clean and dry the breasts. Spray a 9" X 13" ovenproof pan with butter spray or grease it. Spray liberally with the butter spray. Sprinkle the meat with your dry rub. The amount you use is up to you. I put enough on to cover the meat but you can use less if you want less spice.

    Drizzle the meat with enchilada sauce and pour the rest into the bottom of the pan around the chicken. Don't drown the chicken in the sauce because you'll wash off the rub and you want your chicken partially exposed so it gets browned in places.
    Scatter the green onions and the sliced chilies on the top of the chicken. DO NOT put the zucchini in yet. Save that for later.

    Putting It All Together
    Put the chicken and the corn pudding in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. At the 40 minute point, open the oven and scatter the zucchini around the chicken so it has time to roast along with the chicken and it will soak up some of the juices. Close the oven and let the one-hour time finish up.

    At the one-hour point, take out the corn pudding to "rest" on the counter for 10 minutes. You can leave the chicken in the oven.

Serving Suggestions:

    When ready to serve, put the chicken next to a heaping spoonful of corn pudding and a scattering of the veggies in the bottom of the pan around the whole thing. Once you have all the dishes plated, you can drizzle any "gravy" that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan on top of and around the meal. I guarantee the whole meal with have a Southwestern look, smell and surely a zippy taste. Chips and salsa on the side are optional.

Enjoy. Cheers! Zola

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