home cooked dinners by the season

Skillet Tamale Cobbler

Skillet Tamale Cobbler

One pan recipes intrigue me. But only if they rely on the flavors of the central ingredients and not a can of creamed soup or a package of dry seasoning like the casseroles a generation of us were raised on. My kids don’t want anything to do with these.

The comfort food combination of butternut squash, pinto beans and chicken all bound together with tomatoes and seasonings and a smidge of cheese in this recipe made it a popular recipe when I taught cooking classes. The best part is the small spoonfuls of cornbread batter baked on top rather than a thick continuous crust. It’s less bready that way and more about the ingredients underneath. Serving it with a spoonful of sour cream is a must and I especially like the tangy flavor and thick texture of Crema Agria – Mexican-style sour cream.

The Jiffy corn muffin mix is one of the convenience items I do not think compromises an otherwise “homemade” dish. I did my research and found in a taste test that homemade cornbread against “Jiffy” did not produce a dramatic difference. And I love saving preparation time.

Canned beans? I use them often especially when I am crunched for time late in the afternoon and I have not thought ahead – which happens a lot.Be sure to choose a skillet that can go from the top of the stove to the oven. And if you don’t have one you can transfer the tamale mixture to a baking dish and drop the spoonfuls of cornbread batter on top. For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken.

Skillet Tamale Cobbler
 
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, sliced into bite size pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion (half medium onion)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash (half medium squash)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto or black beans, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (4 ounce) diced green chiles (mild or hot), drained
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese (I like Beecher’s Flagship) or crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 box (8.5 ounce) Jiffy cornbread muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 cup Crema Agria or sour cream (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large (10-12 inch) skillet that can go from stovetop to oven (see notes if you do not have a skillet that can go from stovetop to oven), heat oil over medium heat; add chicken and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add squash and cook until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin and stir until spices are evenly mixed throughout; add tomatoes, tomato sauce and chiles; bring to simmer. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper and stir in cheese (see notes if transferring to a baking dish).
  3. Stir together cornbread mix, egg and milk; set aside.
  4. Drop small spoonfuls of cornbread mixture on top of squash tomato mixture using all or as much cornbread batter as desired.
  5. Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and bake until mixture is bubbling and heated through and cornbread is lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve topped with Crema Agria and cilantro.
Notes
If you do not have a skillet that can go from stovetop to oven, prepare the tamale filling, up to the point of stirring in cheese, then transfer it to a baking dish and proceed with the remainder of the recipe.


“Crema Agria” is a Mexican style sour cream that is available in the dairy section of many grocery stores. It is tangier and thicker than regular sour cream. Darigold makes an excellent one.

 


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