This week we're taking our delicious Halal chicken breast and making a juicy grilled Cajun cornbread bake!
Early this week we were looking through our old recipes and happened upon our Halal Chicken Cobbler. This recipe was released earlier this year in January, when it was really cold here in Iowa. While it's not nearly as chilly right now, Fall is coming so we wanted to take this recipe and make a version that took advantage of the still nice weather while incorporating some of those cozy winter soup feelings.
While brainstorming, I thought: "what's something that I am going to miss once it snows outside? Grilling." That was the whole motivation behind this dish! I knew that once it snowed outside, I was going to really miss the nice charred, grilled, juicy chicken that I'm able to make when it's nice outside! So, with that decided, we next thought, "how do we encapsulate the feelings of coziness and warmth without making this dish too soupy?" That is where the spicey Cajun seasoning comes into play! This seasoning has really grown on me in recent times. The heat level it brings is just right while also making the chicken nice and flavorful. After that, the final thing I wanted to have was corn bread.
I love corn bread. When I was little, my dad started making cornbread in all kinds of ways. Sometimes there was corn in it, sometimes there wasn't, sometimes it had honey in it, sometimes the honey was baked on top. No matter how he made it, is was always really delicious. I took this recipe as an opportunity to mix up my own variation of my dad's old corn bread. Rather than make it all by hand though, I opted to go with a premade cornbread mix to keep it easy.
There are a few notes I'd like to leave with this recipe: firstly, we opted not to use any honey in our version. This was discussed at length between my filming partner and I, and at the end we decided to leave the honey out. However, if you wanted to add honey, I would pour it over the top of the cornbread once everything is in the pan. This will give a nice caramelized look once it's out of the oven plus it will add some of that delicious honey sweetness. The next note is in regards to the amount of Cajun seasoning we use. You'll note that here we say to taste and we don't recommend a specific Cajun seasoning. Some Cajun seasonings are extremely hot, some are extremely mild. Some are extremely flavorful, some are more muted and subtle. The one we used was more zesty with some mild heat, so we opted to use a whole lot of it. The amount you use should be determined by how strong you want the flavor to be once the chicken is added to the soup part of the dish. I like to test this by tasting the seasoning on it's own. It's a lot more concentrated this way, however, I find that it helps me to identify the strength of the seasoning, the strength of the salts in the seasoning, and the strength of the heat in the seasoning. If I put it on my tongue and it erupts in flame, that tells me not to use a lot, if I put it on my tongue and it becomes a barren desert? Way salty, don't add much. It takes time, but eventually I learned to determine how much seasoning to use with this method, and you can too!
The final note is on the baking: because we're making a chicken cornbread bake, we should discuss how to know when the cornbread is done baking. Sometimes, the cornbread will looked baked, but still be doughy and uncooked under the surface. The easiest way to check this is with the "tooth pick" method. When I was young, my mother taught me to test a cake's readiness by inserting a tooth pick into the center and go down as far as I could. If it pulls out with a little bit of dough, then it's not ready and needs to cook a little longer. I applied this technique for this cornbread as well. Because the corn bread is baking on top of a soupy texture, the bottom portion will take a little longer to cook. Make sure your tooth pick goes mostly to the bottom of the cornbread layer. When you remove, it should be mostly clean. Once it is, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. The bake will continue to cook while it cools, thus ensuring that the cornbread is nice and flakey for when it comes time to eat!