I have yet to meet a grain than I couldn't turn into a 'pie' type dish. You know I luv me some pie!
So why not corn grits?
Did you read The Help? Remember when Abilene refers to grits as the vehicle for whatever foods you want to put on it? Well maybe that's not word for word for what she said but you get the drift. And I couldn't agree more.
Grits are a blank canvas in the palette of a cook just dying to be blended with some interesting flavors to create something with color or at least flavor.
So I decided that today was as good as any to make a wonderful roasted tomatillo and green chile sauce, mixed together with some leftover cooked chicken, topped with cilantro and onion and baked over corn grits.
What's wrong if a little bit of Dixie meets a whole lot of Mexican in the kitchen?
Take a bite and I doubt you'll be complaining. In fact, I nearly had to arm wrestle the boys for the last piece to be able to get the pic for the post. Yah - it's really that good!
Skillet Baked Corn Grits with Chicken, Roasted Tomatillo & Green Chiles Salsa Verde
Roasted Tomatillo & Green Chiles Salsa Verde:
1 lbs. tomatillos
1/2 lbs. Anaheim or similar green chiles
1 jalapeno pepper
3 garlic cloves
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp roasted ground cumin
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
Cheese & Roasted Anaheim Chiles Corn Grits:
1 cup hominy or stone ground corn grits
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 tbs butter
1 cup chopped red onion
3 cups home made or low sodium chicken stock
1 tsp salt
2 anaheim chiles
4 cups shredded cooked chicken - roasted or boiled
roasted tomatillo & green chiles salsa verde (from above)
cooked grits cooling (from above)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 tsp roasted ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.
Roasted Tomatillo & Green Chiles Salsa Verde: Remove the husks from the tomatillos and cut into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves and discard skin. Peel the yellow onions and dice. Cut the anaheim chiles into 1" chunks. Cut the jalapeno into 1/2 circles. Do not deseed chiles since they will be discarded when we sieve the sauce.
In a 11' x 17" roasting pan, layer the above prepared ingredients in a single layer. Drizzle salt and olive oil all over the pan. Toss to coat with clean hands and then settle the vegetables back in a single layer.
Roast for about 20-25 minutes till tomatillos are soft and blistering. Empty the pan along with the juices in a blender jar. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime (no seeds), cilantro leaves and cumin into the jar. Blend till it is pureed to a smooth sauce.
Place a large bowl under a sieve and push the sauce through the sieve. Return the pulp in the sieve into the blender and add 2 tbs water. Once again puree as smooth as possible. Repeat pushing the mixture through the sieve till you have all the goodness in the bowl. Discard the pulp in the sieve. You can make the sauce the previous day for convenience.
Do not turn off the oven. Keep at 375 deg F.
To roast the Anaheim chiles:
On a gas stove or gas grill roast the Anaheim chiles one at a time till black and charred. Use metal tongs to turn the chile so it is charred on all sides. Immediately seal the chiles in a sealable plastic bag and set aside for 20 minutes.
Wet hands with tap water and begin scraping the skin from the chile. Cut a slit and remove seeds and top. Keep wetting hands and scraping till all the skin is off both the chiles. The idea is to get the skin off and preserve the chile oils, which is why we are not rinsing them directly in tap water. Roughly chop the chiles and set aside.
To make Corn Grits :
In a deep sauté pan, on medium, heat butter till melted and bubbles have subsided. Add the chopped red onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes till softened but not discolored.
Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the corn grits and with a whisk continue to stir to avoid lumps. Cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the roasted chiles and shredded cheese. Continue to whisk to combine and avoid any lumps. Add the salt, taste and adjust seasonings.
Spray a large flat bottomed cast-iron pan or Dutch oven with non-stick baking spray. Empty the grits into the pan and spread to flatten and smooth with a spatula. Set aside to cool.
If you want the grits creamy, you can assemble the dish immediately. If you want the grits firm to form a 'pie like base' in the dish, then allow to cool for 30 minutes at least or overnight before assembling.
By now your grits should have been cooling in the cast iron pan.
In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, sour cream, ground cumin and the roasted tomatillo and green chiles salsa verde. With a spoon, stir till thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Spread the chicken mixture over the grits keeping a 1/2" gap all around the edge.
Scatter the grated cheese over the chicken and the red onion slices over the cheese. If you want your cilantro fresh and green, sprinkle after baking or else sprinkle over the onions.
Bake in a hot oven for approx 25 minutes until the edges are a nice golden brown.
Remove and cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with extra sour cream if desired.
Let me just say that the Salsa Verde is nothing short of spectacular and although I have often served it in traditional enchiladas, this is the first time I've served it over grits opening the door to all new possibilities. I couldn't stop myself licking the spoon!
This was a truly memorable meal and all the pieces came together in perfect harmony. Make the 'pieces' over a couple of days and the assembly on a week night will be a snap. It's always a blessing when something turns out better than what I'd imagined. Give it a go and keep me posted!